KPMG uses employee-led networks to drive caring initiatives


Audit, tax and advisory organisation KPMG utilises a range of measures to put employees in the driving seat when it comes to formulating and structuring initiatives that support working carers and parents within the workplace. Of the organisation’s 12,000 total employees across 22 UK-based sites, 6,483 have declared they are working parents, while informal surveys estimate that one in six employees is a carer.

Many of its initiatives have come via feedback from a comprehensive employee network system. The networks available are diversity-related or link to a specific need, with two of the most prominent networks focusing on support for carers and parents. Each network regularly holds virtual or physical sessions arranged to allow employees with similar responsibilities to come together, whether for a sandwich and chat lunchtime meet up or a guest speaker session.

The individual networks also have a partner sponsor, who takes key concerns and ideas to the HR department or executive board. Martin Blackburn, head of HR at KPMG, says: “It’s not an HR thing; it’s very much an employee-led thing. We want them to have a conduit into the executive team.”

There is also a dedicated ‘My Family’ themed-section on KPMG’s intranet, which details information such as leave policies, issues such as fertility and adoption, and the organisation’s emergency dependents’ care programme. This provides emergency care for employees with a dependent, whether a child, adult or elderly dependent.

Rather than flexible-working arrangements, KPMG has an intelligent working policy in place. The policy outlines that, as long as an employee completes their agreed workload, KPMG does not specify what days or hours they must work to achieve it. Blackburn says: “If you’ve got a caring responsibility, and that means you’re going to be working at home, or you’re not going to be working, [but] you’re going to be delivering that output later in the week [instead], that’s fine.”

KPMG’s award-winning Parent Power scheme, provided in partnership with My Family Care, aims to support employees who are embarking on, or are about to return from, maternity leave; a topic that was raised by the organisation’s parenting network. The programme provides access to online resources, including group coaching webinars.

The scheme was first piloted in July 2015 with 114 participants, and was officially launched in June 2016. “Our aim was to create a culture that was supportive of colleagues, enabling them to achieve their personal and professional ambitions,” says Blackburn.