Race Equality Awards 2017-KPMG: Student Recruitment Review

As one of the largest professional services firms, KPMG is committed to being the clear choice for talented individuals and to driving change. Students are a key source of talent and leadership for the firm.

In 2014, KPMG published stretch targets for gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation, creating a benchmark against which its workforce is recruited. The Inclusive Leadership Board also holds the Executive Committee to account on achieving these targets. The firm’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) target is 9% Partners and 14% Directors by 2018 (compared to 7% and 9% respectively in 2014).

Student recruitment is key to delivering these targets, but in 2014 it was recognised there was more that could be done to attract and hire BAME talent through the firm’s student recruitment process. The firm predominantly targeted Russell Group universities and had a small school leaver programme for Audit only, which led to an imbalance of diversity in student hires. To address these issues, KPMG identified key areas for change: Attraction, Outreach, Programme design and Selection process.

KPMG reviewed its marketing materials to profile the diversity of its workforce and attract more diverse candidates. The firm also identified role models and used their stories across social media and company channels. The new materials were tested with BAME employees to ensure they were fit for purpose.

To broaden the firm’s outreach to different student populations, 12 ‘Reach’ universities with a high percentage of diverse students were identified and target schools were selected. KPMG also worked with organisations including Bright Network, upReach and Teach First to access relevant student populations. The firm is conducting skills workshops to support minority groups who struggle throughout the recruitment process and works with campus Afro-Caribbean societies to raise awareness and build a database of contacts for when applications open in 2018. This work is being undertaken in partnership with KPMG’s Afro-Caribbean Network.

A new elite apprenticeship, KPMG360, was introduced to provide a structured development programme leading to professional qualifications. This programme has been particularly successful in attracting applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds who may not otherwise have access to this type of opportunity.

KPMG used third parties such as the Bridge Group to review its recruitment process, enabling the firm to objectively monitor each stage. For example, the ethnicity of those invited to events was compared with those receiving offers. The firm also carried out investigations at each stage to check for indications of bias or issues which need addressing.

One of KPMG’s largest initiatives was the introduction of the new Launch Pad graduate recruitment process, which focusses on a single innovative and streamlined selection and engagement day. In one day candidates are put through multiple assessments, including their interview, and receive either an offer or detailed feedback within 48 hours. In order to eliminate bias, candidates are assessed against behavioural capabilities. All assessors attend training, including an unconscious bias session. Each capability is assessed three times, each candidate is seen by at least four assessors. To reduce the risk of assessors influencing each other individual scores are confidential. The written assessment is also marked remotely, allowing blind scoring. KPMG was the first Big Four firm to implement this type of process, and the process has been profiled through internal communications and in the 2016 Annual Report.

Since implementing this approach, KPMG has seen increases in the percentage of BAME candidates successfully navigating the student selection process. Between 2014 and 2016, the firm’s intake of BAME graduates increased from 27% to 37%. The intake of BAME school leavers also increased from 24% to 37% in the same period and in 2016 the KPMG360 programme had a BAME intake of 40%.

KPMG is currently building an online skills workshop focusing on the ‘Seizes Business Opportunities’ behavioural capability to address the tendency for BAME candidates not to score well in this area.