Des Yegon and Aimee Freegard talk about KPMG’s diverse culture, what it means to them, and how it enriches their working lives and adds new dimensions to working relationships.

Des is a director in the company’s audit practice. Originally from Kenya, he has also worked in Hong Kong and London.

He says: ‘I think diversity is being able to accept individuals of different backgrounds, different identities and potentially different cultures, and work with them, not disregarding those differences but looking to benefit from them.

‘We’ve got people from all sorts of backgrounds, globally, at KPMG. In the Crown Dependences we’ve got about 35 nationalities and everyone’s coming into the organisation with their own take, and their own experiences, and that just enriches the overall culture.’

From his own experience, Des says that having worked in various offices and cosmopolitan cities like Nairobi, London and Hong Kong ‘forces you to open your mind and you realise the world is that much bigger’.

‘It creates that opportunity to learn from each other, not just from a work perspective but socially speaking as well,’ he adds.

There are a number of policies in place which support a diverse workforce. These include flexible working, menopause support, a new mentorship programme launched to support staff through career progression and improve representation of underrepresented groups in leadership positions and an enhanced programme of support available to working parents and those returning to work.

But inclusion is also about building relationships, especially in a company like KPMG, which, as Des points out, is very much a people business.

One way of building relationships is through employees from different parts of the world sharing their heritage throughout the year. Key cultural dates such as Ramadan, Africa Day, Philippine Independence Day, and Chinese New Year are marked with office celebrations. 

At the same time, local colleagues share their own heritage and culture with those from off island by marking Tynwald Day in Isle of Man and Liberation Day in the Channel Islands.

Aimee Freegard is a senior manager, also in the audit practice. Born and raised here in the island, KPMG has given her the opportunity to learn about and interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. ‘As a manager, I work with different teams, composed of people from different backgrounds and on a day-to-day basis I get to interact, understand others way of thinking and hear their thoughts and perspectives.’

She says that one of her favourite ways of learning more about colleagues from different parts of the world is when everyone brings in a dish from their home country to share, ‘it’s a great conversation starter to get to know everyone on a personal level’.

She says: ‘’We have a host of policies [around diversity and inclusion] which set the tone. But I think it comes down to that informal culture of wanting to get to know people, wanting to understand people’s background and wanting to share experiences and help each other out.’

The company recently held a Neurodiversity Celebration Week, an employee-led initiative which saw autistic colleagues sharing their experiences. Videos also helped them to talk through the challenges that they have experienced.

Aimee: ‘The company has done well to build the foundations culturally so that these conversations are second nature.’

And she goes on: ‘From a KPMG perspective I think it’s about having that diverse way of thinking around the table because that’s when the really interesting ideas happen, when people can actually challenge each other.

‘I think that’s really important and it’s something that we do well here.’