KPMG LLP (KPMG) is the Canadian member firm affiliated with KPMG International, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services to clients in over 140 countries. KPMG in Canada has 33 offices nationally and over 5,000 professional staff.
KPMG is has won many awards for its commitment to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace culture that respects and values peoples’ differences. This effort has included two major data collection activities. In 2001, KPMG introduced the Pulse Survey, an annual employee engagement survey that includes questions designed to measure and track how people perceive and experience the workplace.
In June 2009, KPMG rolled out the Diversity Profile Tool (DPT), an automated process to collect specific demographic employee data. This tool replaces the old Employment Equity (EE) survey that all KPMG employees had to complete during their orientation or “on-boarding process” because of KPMG’s commitment to the Federal Contractors Program (FCP).
The DPT has 14 questions; including four mandatory questions on membership in the four designated groups required under the FCP, and 10 additional questions relating to: cultural background and national heritage, religion and faith, primary language, marriage and parental status, sexual orientation and foreign trained professional status.
Why consider collecting data?
Factors leading KPMG to collect employee information using the Pulse Survey included:
- A desire to monitor and measure the impact and success of KPMG’s diversity initiatives and programs, and to identify gaps
- A commitment to making sure its leaders address and act on the outcomes of the Pulse Survey.
Factors leading KPMG to use the DPT included:
- A need to comply with the FCP and the Employment Equity Act, so that KPMG can continue to do business with the federal government
- A desire to enrich both KPMG’s national diversity strategy and its people programs so that KPMG can continue to target and meet the needs of its employees
- A desire to better reflect the changing needs of KPMG’s people and create a workplace that not only complies with legislation, but is also truly inclusive.
Goals of the Pulse Survey and the Diversity Profile Tool
Data collection is designed to help KPMG:
- Better target, monitor and shape its diversity initiatives
- Better engage its people
- Create and support a diverse, welcoming and inclusive work culture that respects and values peoples’ differences
- Be an employer of choice.
Facing the challenges
Challenges when planning for the Pulse Survey included:
- Developing statements that can be tracked and measured every year
- Technical limitations of tracking intersections of employees’ identity (for example, the survey can show how women and visible minorities will respond to the statement, “Racist comments are not tolerated at KPMG,” but it cannot show how women who are visible minorities respond to the same statement)
- The difficulty of not being able to track certain groups of employees by office, because people are not self-identifying, or because there is not a large enough sample size in each office.
Challenges when planning for the DPT included:
- Developing a strong business case to get buy-in from senior leaders, particularly the partners, associate partners and “People Leaders”
- Gaining the support of other stakeholders in the organization who would play key roles in developing, implementing, delivering and ensuring the quality of the DPT, like the Human Resources Services, Information Technology, Communications and Legal Teams
- Concerns about the use, privacy and confidentiality of the information being collected.
Preparing for the Pulse Survey and the Diversity Profile Tool
To address the above challenges, KPMG did the following before launching the Pulse Survey:
- Made diversity a strategic business priority and set goals that showed a serious commitment to respecting and valuing peoples’ differences
- Worked closely with an external provider and employee engagement expert to create statements that could be tracked over the long term and that would allow respondents to provide feedback that was relevant to KPMG’s work
- Collected and analyzed qualitative data through such methods as focus groups, to track intersections of employees’ identity and understand how people can see the workplace differently
- Used different approaches to track and address issues that affect groups that may not self-identify and/or may not have a large enough sample size (including setting up a mentoring program and working with various KPMG networks, task forces and local or national Diversity Councils).
Before launching the DPT, KPMG:
- Had the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team coordinate the initiative, including identifying and involving all key decision-makers/stakeholders in planning, implementing and communicating the DPT
- Piloted the DPT in early 2009 with a national human resources group, to refine the survey and create a draft frequently asked questions (FAQs) document
- Consulted other human resources staff before developing a final FAQs document that was sent to all staff
- Identified champions within the organization to be key communicators and to promote the importance of completing the Diversity Profile
- Had Communications, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team and the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) review all messages before they were sent out
- Involved both internal and external legal counsel in preparing the demographic data collection questions, to make sure KPMG met all legal, privacy and confidentiality requirements, and reassured respondents that all responses were anonymous
- Conducted an extensive communication plan to answer why the demographic questions were being asked and how employees benefited from taking part
- Through the communication strategy and FAQs, explained the many steps being taken to ensure both privacy and confidentiality, ranging from keeping the data encrypted to guaranteeing no employee would be singled out because of their responses, to assuring that no profile information would be shared with Performance Managers or any unauthorized persons.
Administering the Pulse Survey and the Diversity Profile Tool
- This voluntary employee engagement survey is conducted every year, usually in November or early December.
- Tthe survey contains 16 statements (out of approximately 90 questions overall) that relate to diversity, and eight demographic questions
- Employees and partners are advised that it is not mandatory to complete the survey, but they are strongly encouraged to fill it out
Diversity Profile Tool:
- The tool has 14 questions, including four mandatory ones on membership in the four designated groups required as part of the FCP, and 10 questions relating to such areas as cultural background and national heritage
- Respondents can choose not to answer a question but must submit their profiles, even if they opt out of answering some or all of the questions
- In June 2009, KPMG’s CHRO launched the DPT by sending an e-mail to the partners, associate partners and People Leaders that outlined the DPT, its importance and its benefits. FAQs were included to help management address staff questions
- The National Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sent a similar e-mail to all staff 1 – 2 weeks later
- The HR Services Team was available to respond to any questions or concerns, and had a detailed script
- Employees could also contact members of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team directly, or send questions, comments or concerns to KPMG’s diversity mailbox
- Employees who did not complete their Diversity Profiles would get automated e-mail reminders
- The DPT is now included in the orientation process.
- Last year’s return and response rate was 77%; the sample size was 5,144 employees
- The response was 12-18% higher to the statement, “My future career opportunities look good here at KPMG, overall."
- Many groups are feeling more positive in terms of gender and visible minority stereotypes being effectively addressed, and KPMG has seen how creating a welcoming, inclusive environment is leading to higher productivity and increased loyalty
- Efforts to embed diversity in the business and address work-life effectiveness, through initiatives like Fitness Memberships, flexible work programs and reflection rooms, are translating into lower absenteeism and sickness – and healthier employees
- More people will access and benefit from programs that are actively promoted (such as the Sabbatical Leave program), which is very important because KPMG’s programs and benefits are a major attraction for people joining the firm
- Overall, the results say that KPMG has to continue the momentum of the work it is doing.
Diversity Profile Tool:
- The sample size was 5,144 employees. Because the DPT was recently launched and follow-up e-mails are still being sent, KPMG does not yet have key results to report on and cannot confirm a return and response rate
- KPMG anticipates being able to report to staff on key results by the end of the fiscal year.
Acting on the results of the Pulse Survey
- The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team deliver results through presentations or information meetings with Partners, People Leaders and each business unit leader, who in turn communicate results to their staff
- Depending on the nature of an issue of concern and where it is based, KPMG will tailor interventions accordingly. Examples include:
- holding focus groups to better understand and address issues
- conducting professional development and/or diversity training
- connecting people to KPMG’s professional clubs/networks
- setting up a Diversity Council in a particular office or region to address local diversity issues, and to implement and leverage solutions within the business units, consistent with KPMG’s national strategy
- Some examples of programs that have arisen from employee feedback, like the Pulse Survey results, include:
- KPMG’s support of TRIEC’s Mentoring Partnership program to help new Canadians who are existing or potential employees. KPMG has also formed partnerships with the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council and Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia
- reflection rooms in its major offices give people a tranquil space where they can pray, reflect and meditate
- the Reciprocal Mentoring Program connects senior KPMG leaders with employees of diverse backgrounds and varying levels
- a program to increase the number of women and visible minorities in partnership positions is helping remove barriers to advancement and diversify the workforce
- the national KPMG Aboriginal Task Force, headed by an Aboriginal partner, is working to raise awareness of Aboriginal issues, support and enhance the needs of Aboriginal employees, and is helping to implement a strategy for educating, recruiting and retaining Aboriginal persons in the accounting industry as a whole
- a pilot Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program encourages Aboriginal youth to complete high school and pursue careers in accounting
- People Matters is a firm-wide initiative that focuses on designing people practices to support KPMG’s goal of being a great employer; programs such as emergency Backup Child and Dependant Care are designed to help employees better balance their home and their work lives
- Data collected from the Pulse Survey allows KPMG to set targets for improving the organization and making it more inclusive
- All of KPMG’s business unit leaders are accountable for addressing diversity concerns in their unit by tracking, comparing and evaluating all business units’ Pulse Survey results, year after year
- KPMG is also developing a diversity report card that will include key performance indicators based on such factors as the Pulse Survey results, retention rates, and the community involvement of a business unit.
- Collecting information through the Pulse Survey, on an annual basis, has helped KPMG to: track and monitor its progress; recognize that “you can’t monitor what you don’t measure;” be proactive rather than reactive; and make sure its programs are effective
- Gathering annual data through the Pulse Survey has helped KPMG identify gaps, trends and issues of concern.
- Unless people identify themselves (e.g. as a visible minority or Aboriginal person), further effort and creativity is required to track and monitor a group
- When organizations are developing statements/questions for an annual survey or other tool, they should try to design questions they will want to ask over the long term
- It is okay to modify statements/questions now and then, but modifying them too much can prevent an organization’s ability to track a response
- Tracking the intersections of peoples’ identity and how they can experience or see the workplace differently is helpful
- When possible, organizations should supplement numbers with qualitative data collection methods. This approach can often provide a better understanding of an issue and how to address it
- When concerns arise and changes are made, do not expect change to happen right away. Some issues can be resolved that quickly, but in most cases, it is a longer process to see an organizational culture change.