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Friday July 1st, 2022

KPMG: The role models for diversity and inclusion

Top row (L-R) Ranjani Joseph, Partner – Deputy Head of Audit, Head of Banking and Markets Thamali Rodrigo, Partner – Audit, Family Business and Board Governance Shamila Jayasekera, Partner – Head of Tax Bottom row (L-R) Kamaya Perera, Partner – Head of Management Consulting Pyumi Sumanasekara, Partner – ESG, Family Business and Board Governance, Global Assurance

A decade ago, KPMG Sri Lanka had only one female in its Partnership, and male staff outnumbered females across its offices in Colombo. Today it has the highest composition of female Partners in the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) region of KPMG Network, and gender representation of the senior management team splits almost in the middle, at 57:43.

It all began as a deliberate attempt to give women equal opportunities they rightfully and so richly deserved with the view that the Firm should not fail to recognise the 50% of the talent pool in the market if it wants to become a Trusted and Trustworthy professional firm. However, two things quickly cemented diversity and inclusion into the structural foundations of KPMG Sri Lanka.

The first was the examples of several women who grasped the opportunity to soar in their leadership roles. Among them was the first female elevated to partner status at KPMG Sri Lanka and subsequently, other women were appointed to lead several new business units and functional roles of the firm. They forged an indelible impression that continues to inspire aspiring young women by demonstrating that it is possible to leap beyond the glass ceiling, build successful careers and maintain a fulfilling work-life balance.

A culture of meritocracy was the second thing that firmly established diversity and inclusion at KPMG Sri Lanka.

Today, women hold several top positions at the firm and lead several successful service lines helping male-dominated businesses in male-dominated industries, untangle knotty taxation regimes and execute complex business transformations worldwide with the support of the Network.

The notable female torchbearers for diversity and inclusion at KPMG Sri Lanka are Ranjani Joseph, Partner – Deputy Head of Audit, Head of Banking and Markets; Thamali Rodrigo Partner – Audit, Family Business and Board Governance, Shamila Jayasekera, Partner – Head of Tax; Kamaya Perera, Partner – Head of Management Consulting; and Pyumi Sumanasekara Partner – ESG, Family Business and Board Governance, Global Assurance, say “If we want a better world, we must build it. That’s why it’s up to all of us to work together to forge our confidence because we know what is right and to empower change because we know what we want”. They proudly recognise the supportive environment built by their male colleagues in the Firm, who are always ready to extend a helping hand and promote gender diversity.

While meritocracy rewards excellence and helps women climb the ladder quickly, the KPMG culture is also constantly challenging conventional norms and cultural biases of a patriarchy-bent society. The females at KPMG have proven that women are as adept as men at executing complex tasks and thrive under intense pressure with one added advantage, empathy.

When dealing with clients, they also do their best to unlock opportunities for women representing clients, as long as they are grounded in merit.

KPMG has profoundly changed how women perceive themselves and their role in society. Even in this day and age, women must choose between their families or building their careers and make tremendous sacrifices disproportionate to men. At KPMG, women have found liberation from those choices. The flexible working arrangements open to all staff at KPMG has proven to be a great asset in helping working mothers fulfil their career ambitions and aspirations and spend more time with their kids few other workplaces would allow.

KPMG, one of the big four global audit firms, is serious about diversity, equality, and inclusion.

KPMG recognises that there is nothing more important to the firm’s success than its people, the firm’s greatest asset, and continues to focus on building a future grounded in diversity where everyone feels they bring their whole selves to work -. The firm believes in empowering its people to be themselves, respect each other and find strength in their differences – that is also one of its core values. As a signatory to the UN Global Compact Principles and UN Women Empowerment Principles, KPMG is committed to eliminating discrimination and empowering women in the workplace.

At KPMG Sri Lanka, females account for 23% of the Partnership, 28% of the Board, 43% of management, and 49% of team members. KPMG has come close to gender parity – female participation overall is at 48% – yet the firm vows to do more.

KPMG has a strong culture of diversity, equality, and inclusion, supported by robust anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, and flexible working arrangements ensconced in a meritocracy that has allowed women to build strong careers with KPMG.

KPMG was the Times Top 50 Employers for Women for 11 consecutive years in the UK and received the Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for 13 years straight from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

KPMG was also a Top 10 Working Mother & Avtar Best Company for Women in India. It was among the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in the US for 23 years and was among the Stonewall Workplace Index Top 100 rankings for the last five years. KPMG is also one of Canada’s Top 100 Best Diversity Employers.