KPMG are reportedly urging staff to use its whistleblowing system to report concerns instead of the media, after a leaked meeting recording led to its former head Bill Michael stepping down, first reported by Financial News.
The ex KPMG boss, who left the firm in February, made comments around “unconscious bias” during an online town hall video meeting which concerned some staff, prompting an unknown individual to leak the video to the media.
Michael resigned from his role as KPMG chair after the video, in which he told staff to “stop moaning” and “playing the victim”, surfaced online.
The company has been discouraging staff from leaking information to the press since Michael’s exit, Dr Kay Swinburne, KPMG’s UK vice chair for financial services, told Financial News.
“We’ve all been asked to make sure that our teams understand the damage you can do to us as a firm,” she said, and admitted that the auditing giant had “become a bit of a leaky sieve”.
A KPMG spokesperson told City A.M. that its whistleblowing helpline has been available for over a decade. The accounting giant said it began a project to “enhance our speak up culture,” two years ago. KPMG has since created 120 “Ethics Champion” roles in a bid to make the whistleblowing process more transparent, and have held regular open forum meetings for staff and leadership.
“Our new Chief Executive Jon Holt and Chair Bina Mehta have been vocal since coming into their roles about the importance of our people speaking up, and reiterating our commitment to listening and taking action where people see or experience behaviour that is not in line with our values,” added the spokesperson.
The news follows a series of auditing scandals at the accounting firm. Most recently an independent tribunal found that KPMG and one of its partners did not comply with the UK professional accounting principles of objectivity and integrity in June while advising on the sale of Silentnight to US private equity firm HIG Capital through a pre-pack administration in 2011, according to the Financial Times.