Women fall back in KPMG partner race

Marion Dakers
KPMG is struggling to find top-class female employees, having included just three women in its latest round of partner promotions, City A.M. has learned.

Just one in ten of the 30 staff picked for promotion in October are women, down from one in four a year ago despite efforts at KPMG and across the professional services industry to foster female talent.

“We agree that it would have been better to employ more women as partners this year, but we don’t practise positive discrimination,” said a KPMG spokesperson. “On this occasion it wasn’t possible to increase the number of women partners from the range of people in front of us.”

The firm has recently appointed two women to its UK executive committee and has several schemes to help its female staff progress.

Yet some at KPMG are worried that former chair John Griffith-Jones’ legacy of encouraging diversity has been lost in a round of staffing cuts.

KPMG’s efforts and those at other firms are not yet producing the desired results. Deloitte added 13 women and 50 men in its latest partner round in June, while Ernst & Young found two women to promote compared to 17 male candidates. PwC chose 30 men and nine women for its partner round.

Accountancy body the ICAEW said firms are trying to promote women to senior positions but face challenges. “Although nearly half of the new people coming into the chartered accountancy profession are women, in their 30s many women drop out,” said executive director Sharron Gunn.