KPMG sets target for nearly a third of senior staff to be working class

Accountancy giant KPMG has become one of the first major UK firms to set a target for the number of senior staff from working class backgrounds.

The group wants to have 29% of its partners and directors to come from a working class background by 2030, which it defines as having parents with “routine and manual” jobs, such as drivers and cleaners.

It said that currently 23% of the firm’s partners and 20% of its directors were from working class backgrounds.

Working class representation across its board is 22% and 14% in its executive committee.

The move comes as part of wider aims to narrow the pay gap and increase diversity across KPMG after it found staff from working class backgrounds were typically paid 8.6% less than those whose parents worked in “higher managerial, administrative and professional” jobs.

It comes after KPMG’s former UK chairman Bill Michael resigned earlier this year amid a furore over comments he made to staff in a Zoom call.

Mr Michael told staff they should “stop moaning” about worries over cuts to their benefits during Covid-19, and dismissed so-called unconscious bias.

His successor, Bina Mehta – who said she comes from a working class background – said diversity in the workforce is vital.

She said: “I’m a passionate believer that greater diversity in all its aspects improves business performance.

“Diversity brings fresh thinking and different perspectives to decision making, which in turn delivers better outcomes for our clients.”

The group will introduce measures including launching new recruitment programmes designed to bring in talent from lower socio-economic groups to middle management and senior levels, as well as mandatory training for all its 16,000 staff on socio-economic background.

Nik Miller, chief executive of non-profit consultancy the Bridge Group, said: “In publishing pay gaps by socio-economic background for the first time, and using this to inform a strategy for change, KPMG is leading the way.”