In a first for a large business in Britain, KPMG has set a target for 29 per cent of its UK partners and directors to come from a working class background by 2030, the company said in an announcement today.
Currently less than a quarter of KPMG’s partners, and a fifth of its directors, are from working class backgrounds.
There is similarly low working class representation on the KPMG board, at 22 per cent and just 14 per cent in its executive committee.
The accounting giant described working class as “routine and manual” occupations and used the occupations of employees’ parents to identify which socio-economic group they fell into – a measure recommended by social mobility experts such as the consultancy Bridge Group.
KPMG is also the first in the UK to publish data on the socio-economic background pay gaps among its employees, according to the company.
A KPMG survey of 70 per cent of its UK partners and employees found that staff from working class backgrounds are often paid 8.6 per cent less than those with parents in “higher managerial, administrative and professional” jobs.
The data also showed that colleagues from working class backgrounds were relatively underrepresented in middle management roles whereas senior and junior KPMG staff were among the most socio-economically diverse cohorts. This, KPMG said, has contributed to the existing pay gaps.
The accounting giant said it will conduct new recruitment drives to attract talent from lower socio-economic backgrounds to middle management and senior levels as part of a push to reach its target.
All 16,000 KPMG staff will also receive mandatory training on socio-economic backgrounds and parental occupation will be incorporated as a key measure in KPMG HR processes, the company said in a statement.
The firm will also run a talent development programme specifically aimed at colleagues from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
“I’m a passionate believer that greater diversity in all its aspects improves business performance,” said Bina Mehta, chair of KMPG, who described herself as from a working class background, in The Times.
“Diversity brings fresh thinking and different perspectives to decision making, which in turn delivers better outcomes for our clients,” she added.
The chief executive of KPMG UK, Jon Holt, said in a statement: “We know that investors, clients, employees and communities want greater transparency from business, and our Impact Plan is just the start.”