Firms should consider socio-economics as a component of diversity, according to Ann Brown, head of people for KPMG.
“This is an area that isn’t discussed often,” Brown told HR magazine. “It would be great if other companies started to measure this with the same criteria so we could get comparable data.”
KPMG has become, it states, the first firm in the UK to publish comprehensive data analysing the socio-economic profile of its workforce. It found that the majority of employees received a state school education; with 60% having attended a non-selective state school and 14% attending a selective state school. A quarter (23%) received private education.
Data from the Independent Schools Council suggests that 7% of the UK pupil population are studying in private schools.
Additional detail on parental education found that 48% of KPMG employees had a parent or guardian with a university degree, while 43% did not. On parental occupation, 58% had parents in a higher managerial, administrative or professional occupation, 16% had parents employed in a manual occupation, and 11% had parents in intermediate occupations.
“Financial services has a reputation for being exclusive; that you have to have gone to a private school or a Russell Group university to get in,” Brown told HR magazine. “That shouldn’t be the case. We want our staff to come from a broad range of backgrounds, the same way our clients come from a broad range of backgrounds.
“We looked at data such as parental occupation and whether they were eligible for free school meals as a child to establish the economic background, and will be working on maintaining our relationships with schools and offering graduate schemes and apprenticeships to people of all backgrounds.”
Nicholas Miller is the director of charitable policy association The Bridge Group, which advised KPMG on what data to collate and how to analyse the results. “Understanding workforce diversity is essential to underpin any activity aimed at improving it, and this is most complex in relation to socio-economic background,” he said.
“KPMG has undertaken the most comprehensive collection of workforce data of any business to date, with evidence showing it is making positive progress with its school leaver and graduate recruits. The inclusion of parental occupation provides particularly important insights.”