Alison Macleod at her firm’s first “Gender Diversity Summit” last week
Photo: KPMG Luxembourg
Diversity: Promoting women is not just PR at her workplace, says Alison Macleod.
When I tell people that gender balance has been made a strategic priority for our company, the initial reaction is often the same: there must be a deep-rooted problem we’re trying to solve. But just last Wednesday at our inaugural Gender Diversity Summit, the head of FEDIL, Robert Dennewald, highlighted KPMG Luxembourg as a firm that “helps bring up the average” in terms of gender parity in the Grand Duchy. So why would a company with a respectable 60:40 male/female split bring gender to the top of its agenda?
When our lead partner Georges Bock came to me with a request that I lead the effort on gender diversity, you will not be surprised to know that I was somewhat cynical. Was this a sort of political correctness? Why was a woman leading this project and not a man? Frankly, I was too damn busy. That is not my thinking now.
Firstly, Georges lied… I am not the leader of the gender diversity project--he is. Gender diversity is not something done at KPMG for political correctness purposes, it is done because it is right, it is good for business and it makes KPMG a better place to work.
As the COO of gender diversity, I would like to report that the firm has made good progress, but we have a long way to go: a quarter of our partners are women, and almost half of our directors; in audit, statistics position KPMG as the leading professional services firm in Luxembourg with respect to gender diversity; our women are leading business initiatives for the firm, and are far from being followers and doers: we just work together.
Our gender diversity project is a combined effort from all functions and levels within KPMG. We have spent a lot of time putting together a team to work on the gender diversity project made up of both sexes, incorporating staff delegation and representatives from all departments. We developed a road map to plot our journey and milestones and worked hard on our message to ensure that we did not alienate those who may not have been sympathetic to the subject. We are also supported by a dozen ambassadors at senior management and partner level who have volunteered to further gender diversity principles within the company. We have received strong sponsorship and support from our lead partner and the executive committee.
Listen and learn
We kicked off with an important first step: workshops throughout the firm where we have listened and we have learned. And there have already been changes, for example: we have implemented a programme of gender diversity training; we are revisiting our recruitment process to ensure that we have a balanced recruitment of the best talent; we are trying to understand what all our employees need from us as employers, including crèche facilities, specific training, working from home and technology support; and we actively work with external partners such as Charte de la Diversité to collaborate on this topic and share best practice.
Gender diversity is a business imperative to all of us who wish to see Luxembourg gain new perspectives and embrace new ideas. Our clients expect us to be balanced when bringing our services to them. How can you give the best advice and help if you do not have your best people?