Accountancy firm KPMG employs more than 13,000 staff across 22 locations in the UK. It is committed to supporting its employees and set up its Be Mindful Network in May 2015 to help improve mental health across the organisation. Jessica Carmody, head of Be Mindful at KPMG, says: “We run regular health awareness events and in February, we decided to focus on eating disorders to tie in with Eating Disorders Awareness Week. There is more we can do as an employer to educate ourselves and support colleagues who may experience these conditions.”
The event consisted of a number of elements, including a Sock It day where employees were encouraged to wear their most flamboyant socks, posting their #Sockitselfies to Twitter and the firm’s intranet to raise awareness.
In addition, Carmody worked with charity Beat and colleague Jack Jacobs, an audit associate at KPMG and former anorexia sufferer, to organise an event focusing on eating disorders in the workplace. This brought together a panel of speakers, including Jacobs, a representative from Credit Suisse whose partner had suffered from an eating disorder, Beat’s director of fundraising, and a nutritionist from Nuffield Health.
Jacobs says: “We were able to cover everything from challenging some of the perceptions around eating disorders to what someone could do to support a colleague with a disorder. It was very powerful to talk about personal experiences.”
The session also flagged up some of the support mechanisms that KPMG already has in place. This includes an employee assistance programme and its HR advisory team, which can give advice to leaders and individuals on any health concerns. “We want to support employees and enable them to feel comfortable about talking about any issues they might have,” says Carmody. “Raising awareness of eating disorders in the workplace is an important part of that.”