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KPMG sets working class diversity targets

Last week Big Four professional services firm KPMG announced that it would be aiming for 29% representation of partners and directors from working class backgrounds by 2030.

It set the target after finding a lack of working class representation at middle management was contributing to a socio-economic pay gap.

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With 23% of partners and 20% of directors from a working class background, defined by the company as having parents with "routine and manual" jobs, these employees were paid 8.6% less than those from other socio-economic groups.

HR consultant, DE&I advisor and executive coach Dawn Morton-Young said KPMG’s target is pleasingly ambitious, however she warned any firms setting such goals to be sensitive when categorising people.

Speaking to HR magazine she said: “There also would need to be infrastructure put in place to help develop and support those employees, as socio-economic status has an impact on the way we think, our mindset, how we interact with others and our peer group.

“Thrusting people into director-level roles without adequate support for them to integrate into what could be an entirely new world for them, could be counter-productive.”

The further segmentation of pay gaps was also seen as a positive move by Morton-Young, and she said she believed there is a case to go further.

“Wherever there is bias (unconscious or not) against a particular group, evidence shows marginalisation for those groups, including in salaries paid,” she said.

On 20 September, the UK government is set to debate the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, which saw a rise in uptake in 2020.

Also pushing for more diverse representation, in 2020 diversity campaign group the 30% Club challenged FTSE 350 firms to introduce a higher percentage of women, and women of colour to their boards and executive committees.

Wanda Wyporska, executive director of The Equality Trust, welcomed more target setting to move the needle on diversity.

However, she said firms also need to consider how they create a culture to back them up.

"It's great to see that class is finally on the radar and that pay gaps are being discussed,” Wyporska told HR magazine.

“Diversifying an organisation is not just about hiring more people, it's also about changing the culture so that everyone feels welcome.

“Setting quotas is successful when organisations really explore what the consequences of such actions are and how they change the culture.”