Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why KPMG LLP was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- KPMG offers new parents-to-be a generous adoption subsidy (to $20,000) and supports new moms with maternity leave top-up payments (to 100 per cent of salary for 17 weeks) -- the firm also maintains a Working Parents Network to bring together parents with young children and manages a virtual Special Parents Network to support parents of children with special physical, emotional or behavioural needs
- As part of KPMG's commitment to mental health and well-being, the firm recently appointed its first Chief Mental Health Officer, who will focus on supporting and embedding the firm's mental health strategy and developing a national network of mental health champions
- KPMG encourages employee volunteerism through its "KPMG Impact" strategy and maintains a Community Leader Award to recognize employees who have made significant or unique contributions to their community -- award recipients receive matching donations and the flexibility to volunteer during the work day
KPMG empowers its people 'from the get-go'
You can go a long way in a short time at KPMG LLP, as Ollie James discovered. After working for five years as a management consultant in London for KPMG International's UK member firm, the 29-year-old Yorkshireman was attracted by the idea of transferring to Vancouver. So, with internal support, he did in 2017. And by early 2018, he was part of a new and highly select group known as Leaders of Tomorrow, working directly with Elio Luongo, CEO and Senior Partner for the Canadian member firm. "It was an amazing opportunity," says James.
James' experience is part of a strong push by KPMG in Canada to open up and evolve its culture, says Chief Talent Officer Linda Speedy. Employees of the professional services firm are participating in decision-making and giving feedback. "We are listening to our people and involving them in designing and creating our environment with the initiatives that are most important to them," she says.
The 31-member Leaders of Tomorrow group was selected from some 300 applicants from across Canada and meets quarterly with Luongo. In applying to be a member, James was able to point to an innovative project he started in Vancouver called Pollinate, a network of young professionals in the city that brings together people from KPMG and people from a wide variety of outside companies. Now, after Luongo had James present the idea to KPMG's management committee, the firm is introducing the network in Toronto and Victoria to see how it works in other centres. Hopefully, chuckles James, it will soon expand to be "PolliNation."
Meanwhile, James has taken on a new job - Operations Lead of the KPMG Ignition Centre in Vancouver, another example of the firm's evolving approach. The centre occupies a floor designed more like a tech company environment, complete with graffiti-style designs and open spaces, to help clients think outside the box in terms of their business. James is quite awestruck by his own progress. "The amount of different experiences I've had is really incredible," he says. "It's very entrepreneurial here - they let you run with an idea."
Speedy says KPMG is working hard to provide a more inclusive environment where people see meaning in what they do and have choices. "Designing with our people from the get-go is mission critical," she says. In fact, the firm's new Total Rewards program is among the most flexible anywhere. Employees have identified the things they value from a wellness perspective. The ball will be in their court to choose how they spend their wellness pool. Premium benefit coverage, retirement or short-term savings, house cleaning, boot camps or dog walkers - the choices are diverse and in employees' hands.
KPMG's audit, tax and advisory practices continue to hire significant numbers of university students each year from business programs. But increasingly, says Speedy, the firm is recruiting from STEM disciplines - science, technology, engineering and mathematics. "The pace of change and disruptions in the environment mean our clients need different advice and support than they have in the past," she says. "The more people we have who understand data, how to visualize it and how to get insights from it, the more helpful we can be to our clients."
Another advantage KPMG can offer is the ability to work almost anywhere, given that the firm is represented in just about every large and medium-size urban centre in Canada, from Toronto to Fort St. John, B.C. And as Ollie James found, it's not that hard to move, either - especially forward.
Teamwork at KPMG is like playing on a sports team
Two things have been great for Ryan Robinet's career, in his view - playing basketball and working at KPMG LLP.
Robinet grew up in Windsor, Ont. playing the sport, and won a full scholarship to Michigan's Hillsdale College, a Division 2 NCAA school. After that, he gained his master's degree in accounting at the University of Toronto, where he still volunteers as an assistant basketball coach. Then, in 2013, he joined KPMG in Toronto in the real estate area of the corporate tax group.
Today, he is a Senior Manager, Tax, and grateful for the way his career has run. "They do a really good job of creating opportunities internally for you to learn different things and pursue your interests," Robinet says. In his second year, given his U.S. background, he was able to do a secondment with the U.S. corporate tax team in Toronto. In his third year, he was promoted to manager in the real estate group and a year later, he was given another secondment, this time to work with the national tax team researching and reporting on the latest developments in Canadian tax law.
"At KPMG we get a lot of the big-name clients, which offer big learning opportunities, and that's obviously a reason to stay while you're developing your career," says Robinet. "But I've never had to take another job, because for anything I want to learn there are opportunities to do that within the firm. There are rotation and secondment opportunities all over, including internationally."
He has also found that the company is open to ideas for change, such as his input in helping to make some tax research and writing processes fully digital. "I've had a chance to make an impact on the way we do things here," he says. "This is a place where the people at the top really appreciate the ideas of the younger generation."
Sebastian Distefano, Regional Managing Partner for the Greater Toronto Area, agrees that KPMG offers "a ton of variety" for its team members. "We make it a point to ensure that people get to work with diverse teams on a variety of different assignments and with different clients, and the learning and development you get from that is second to none," he says.
The firm's Avenues program, he notes, is designed to give newly hired graduates the opportunity to move through a series of practices and teams and to teach them a multitude of skills. "It's a win-win," he says.
KPMG also uses secondments as part of its charity outreach. Each year, the firm places a key member with the United Way for several months to help with its financial operations.
Distefano stresses the firm's commitment to diversity, notably through its Women in Line for Leadership program, or WILL. "A big push in our firm is to make sure we are inclusive and our workforce is diverse," he says. "Diversity allows us to challenge ourselves, to think differently and ultimately to serve our clients more effectively."
In addition, the firm's Leaders of Tomorrow program channels up-and-coming young people into a select group that works directly with the CEO.
It's a high-performing environment, but there is considerable support and mentorship, as Robinet has found. He likens working at KPMG to the teamwork he has experienced as an athlete and coach. "You have someone for everything," he says. "On a basketball team you have a seven-footer who's good at rebounding, and when your team really needs a rebound you'll probably rely on that person. At KPMG, if you have an issue, you probably have a person who knows that topic really well, even if they're from a different area, and you can go to that person. There's a lot of collaboration and a lot of really smart people here. You need teams to win in basketball, and in client service."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 17, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why KPMG LLP was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
- The firm recently launched the "KPMG Ideation Challenge", inviting students from various countries to work alongside KPMG data, analytics and artificial intelligence personnel to solve complex business issues -- ideas are presented to a global judging panel, who then select initiatives for co-development
- KPMG manages "Avenues", a program for graduates in the early stages of their career -- participants are employed across audit, tax and advisory practices and consider specialization as they work towards professional designation -- participants are also assigned a dedicated Development Manager to provide coaching and feedback
- With the recent introduction of CPA Canada's Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance, KPMG created a college recruitment program for individuals who are not interested in becoming a qualified CPA -- KPMG partnered with 35 community colleges across Canada that offer accounting diplomas in order to develop a new associate role within its audit practice
KPMG starts its relationships with young people early
Call her a KPMG baby. Kim Brecci Solidum first got to know KPMG LLP in her second year of university, when she heard about something called KICC.
The event was a program now known as the KPMG Innovation and Collaboration Challenge, and Solidum plunged in, working with a four-member team to solve business issues and present ideas to senior people at the professional services firm. She may not have known it then, but it was the beginning of a continuing relationship with KPMG that eventually led to a job with the firm after her 2018 graduation. "KPMG was always in the back of my mind," she says, "especially as I got to know their people."
In the summer before her third year in the University of Toronto's Rotman Commerce program, Solidum joined the Experience Community Leadership program at KPMG in Toronto, working as a volunteer for the group ME to WE. "These were values that aligned with mine - giving back to the community," she says.
After third year, she did a summer internship at KPMG, meeting more of the firm's people, and became a KPMG Campus Ambassador. But the icing on the cake that summer was going to Berlin as part of the KPMG Global Advantage Program, a three-day conference involving people from KPMG member firms around the world. "It was my first time in Europe," she says. "I met people from so many different cultures."
In October 2018, after completing a graduate diploma, Solidum joined KPMG in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan as an Audit Staff Accountant within Consumer and Industrial Markets. And she couldn't be happier. "Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly," she says. "It's a really amazing place to work."
Solidum's journey highlights KPMG's approach to bringing in young people, says Julia Innis, Candidate Experience Leader in HR, whose team oversees candidate programs. "We put a lot of effort into engaging with students long before they may end up working at the firm," she says. "Our programs offer them professional development as well as allowing them to learn more about our culture, meet our people and discover what opportunities may be available. But most importantly, the students learn value-added skills that they can use both as students and later in their careers."
She notes that in addition to the programs Solidum was involved with, the firm also offers the KPMG Ideation Challenge, designed to attract students from STEM disciplines with challenges in such areas as artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and Executive Look, a three-day summer leadership conference in Toronto involving the firm's CEO and leadership team.
Students can also apply for a Global Internship, in which they spend half their summer with a member firm abroad - such as in South Africa, Ireland or Australia - and half at home. "In all of these programs, we always include social activities and opportunities for the students to network and just enjoy wherever they are," says Innis.
If they finally join KPMG, many of the new recruits will go through Avenues, a multi-year program that moves them around the firm and provides them with strong mentoring and coaching. They will also undergo foundation training and receive support for professional accreditation, such as a CPA.
Soon, too, many new employees may find themselves in surroundings like Solidum's at the renovated Vaughan office, which now features open-concept workspaces, standing desks, bean bag chairs and games such as foosball and air hockey on hand. "I really like it," she says. "It's a concept I enjoy as a Gen Z-slash- Millennial. It's very modern."
Overall, says Innis, "we're very proud of the vast number of career opportunities we offer, and the vast breadth of experience you can gain as a young person due to the incredible range of KPMG's clients."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why KPMG LLP was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- KPMG is committed to supporting the advancement of female employees, offering various training opportunities such as Women in Line for Leadership (WILL) to develop high-potential senior managers to become partner-ready candidates -- additionally, the firm maintains the Women's Interchange Network (WIN) to facilitate opportunities for women to connect, as well as WIN@Leadership, a career development program to help women cultivate professional relationships
- For nearly a decade, KPMG has supported the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative Accounting Mentorship Program to encourage Aboriginal students to pursue post-secondary education and future careers in accounting -- the firm also offers a First Nations and Aboriginal Student Awards scholarship program for students enrolled in business, marketing or the First Nations Financial Administration program at post-secondary institutions
- KPMG's inclusion and diversity team organized dedicated training for the campus recruitment team on recruiting students with disabilities and Indigenous students
A Syrian's story: Coming out in comfort at KPMG
Anas Qartoumeh made one of the biggest decisions of his life shortly after he joined KPMG LLP in June 2018 in Kelowna, B.C.
He had already been through a considerable ordeal as a Syrian refugee new to Canada. But there was another secret that not even his family back in Damascus knew, which he was about to reveal to his KPMG colleagues at a welcoming party for the latest recruits to the professional services firm. Qartoumeh, the new Senior Accountant and Consultant, Auditing, had been asked to speak, and at the podium he came out publicly for the first time - he was gay, he told them.
This was huge for someone coming from a conservative culture where homosexuality is not tolerated. He had hidden it from all his previous employers in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Even before the KPMG event, he says, "I didn't tell anybody. But I had been reading the diversity and inclusion policies at KPMG, and I saw the respect and openness towards LGBT people. I saw that it was a good environment to come out, so at the staff meeting I surprised everybody."
As you'd expect, his KPMG colleagues were very supportive. The story quickly spread in Kelowna, and Qartoumeh was asked to speak elsewhere in town, culminating in his invitation that summer to lead the city's Pride parade as Grand Marshal. That in turn generated international news, and some former colleagues in the Middle East began responding on social media - not in a good way. "I got attacked in messages from a lot of people, including directly on LinkedIn," he says. "And some of my family cut me off totally."
But KPMG people responded on social media as well. "They started to protect me, saying 'we are so proud of you', 'thank you for coming to Canada,' and 'Canada is so proud of you,'" says Qartoumeh. Other supportive comments rolled in from KPMG in Australia and KPMG in Germany. "At first I was going to block the guy on LinkedIn," he says, "but I decided to leave his comment as an example of the response to homophobia."
As KPMG's Toronto-based National Inclusion & Diversity Leader, Kristine Remedios remembers the episode well. "Within one hour of the LinkedIn post, we were on the phone together," she says. They discussed how he might respond, but she left it up to Qartoumeh. "We just wanted him to know we supported him," she says. The situation also led KPMG in Canada to develop a protocol for any such future cases to make sure employees have the backup they need. "Social media has changed the way people communicate," notes Remedios.
KPMG has been expanding its diversity and inclusion structures considerably in recent years, including for LGBTQ+ people, Remedios says. Ina recent overhaul of medical benefits, the firm added a $10,000 grant for gender transformation surgery beyond what provincial systems pay. Even the benefits guide was revised to bring in gender-neutral language.
It has also been hiring many new immigrants like Qartoumeh. In fact, Qartoumeh praises KPMG for being willing to look past his lack of specific Canadian credentials to see that his more than a decade of experience with major professional services firms in the Middle East qualified him for a senior audit position.
"We've always been an inclusive employer," says Remedios. "Our visible minority population is at 31 per cent, which is quite high if you compare it to the skilled marketplace for professional services firms. That is around 27 per cent."
As for Qartoumeh, he is thriving in his new location. "I thought I would only stay in Kelowna for a while, and then move to a big city," he says. "Now I feel very attached to Kelowna and I'm not going to move. The weather is really nice and the people are super-friendly."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why KPMG LLP was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- KPMG employees helped create and organize waste reduction, recycling and reuse programs at offices across the country, capturing everything from pens to e-waste to donating used furniture -- the firm achieved an impressive waste diversion rate of 97 per cent for the its downtown Toronto location
- In addition to being a pioneer in working to address everything from its own paper usage to carbon emissions to work styles to its building footprint, KPMG provides dedicated professional sustainability services to help clients understand, manage and improve their own environmental and social impacts -- the services are managed by a core team of 18 sustainability subject matter experts who are supported by professionals from across the firm
- KPMG employees across the country work to support numerous green community initiatives including the Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve, Sustainable Kingston, ReForest London, Sustainable Hamilton, Queen's University Solar Design Team, Essex Regional Conservation Authority, and Sustainable Montréal, to name a few
KPMG takes a holistic approach to social purpose
At the professional services firm KPMG LLP, sustainability is so much a part of the broad corporate culture that it figures in a new senior title you may see more of, as other organizations follow its lead. Kristine Remedios is now Chief Inclusion and Social Impact Officer.
"We are looking at a more holistic approach to social purpose within our organization, and the title is indicative of that," says Remedios. "When you look at inclusion, diversity, social change, they're all interconnected. It's about empowering our people, it's about supporting and giving back, and it's about working in a more environmentally friendly way.
"It's part of the evolution of corporate social responsibility," she continues. "Five or 10 years ago it might have been about donations. Now people want to know where those dollars are going, where they are making an impact. Or they want to be involved in that impact directly, in a very hands-on way."
Remedios notes that workplace flexibility policies such as working from home - sparked in part by the drive to support inclusion of women, parents and others who need flex time - are also directly beneficial to the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions are immediately reduced when people don't commute, and offices contribute less when there are fewer people using the heat, light and waste systems.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also a way for organizations to give back to the community, notes Remedios. KPMG has made strong inroads in that area. In Canada, it reduced its emissions per employee by 16.7 per cent over five years. About 60 per cent of its office space is certified to LEED Gold standard or equivalent.
Some initiatives are suggested by KPMG's global sustainability team, and "we integrate them in everything we do," says Remedios. "We also have more than 30 offices across Canada, where we have individuals who get involved in sustainability and our environmental initiatives at the local level."
One of those people is Catherine Nadeau, a Senior Manager on the Advisory team in Montreal and president of the KPMG Montreal Sustainability Committee, which is made up of some 15 volunteers from across the firm. They work to reduce the office's environmental footprint and raise awareness among staff. "We're always looking for what we could be doing next," says Nadeau.
The committee has worked with the firm and its conference centre to replace plastic water bottles with a jug of water and glasses at meetings, switch from disposable plates, cutlery and coffee cups to washable ishes, and get rid of single-use plastics, such as cutlery and straws, in the cafeteria. Each new employee is given a ceramic mug for beverages, replacing Styrofoam and paper cups. Lights now go off automatically at night and on weekends. "We're also working with the building management on office recycling and composting to see if there are more improvements we can make," says Nadeau.
Thanks to KPMG, employees get a discount on public transit, and there are two BIXI bicycle keys available for short trips to see clients. The committee also encourages staff to use their annual paid volunteer time for environmental projects, such as cleaning up a park last year.
To increase awareness, the committee holds twice-yearly "Eco-conferences" - lunch-and-learns that the whole firm is invited to. "We're raising consciousness for people who might not be aware of the issues yet, or how they apply in their day-to-day life, or how to take action," says Nadeau. "It's important to encourage people to be doing more at home as well."
Nadeau notes that as a services firm, KPMG does not have a large environmental footprint - "we're not a manufacturer." But the firm's leadership is very supportive of the committee's work and listens to its recommendations, she says. "Our ideas are highly welcomed and appreciated by senior management."