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D&I Market insight 2015 Part 3: The client connection – moving from transactional to personal

Last October, KPMG held its inaugural Inclusion week.  One of the standout events for many in the firm was our client conversations session, when four of our key clients told us why diversity was important to them.

Inclusive leadership is taking personal responsibility for building diverse teams, internal and external.  It allows us to enlarge the pie, through discovering more about each other, and responding accordingly. 

So how can diversity and inclusion help?

1.   By deepening relationships and building trust

Last month, a Director was terrified of the consequences of disclosing his mental health situation to a client.  In fact, framed effectively, it made the client relationship stronger.  The client responded with the fact that a family member had also suffered depression.  We could discuss KPMG’s Be Mindful network, initiated by Nick Baber.

2.   By increasing the touch points

One of the ways London beat Paris in the bidding for the 2012 Olympics was because we concentrated on the little guys, the small countries that the big guys (most notably France) ignored.  They had a vote too.

We had a Board level dinner with a platinum client last week.  At the end of the evening, comparing notes, some folks had some good data on sales performance, M&A and current pipeline challenges.  Others knew that the CEO’s second son was autistic and he was deeply passionate about disability in the workplace and what was KPMG’s view on it?

3.   Through the Heineken effect

Just this week, a Partner in FS was struggling to gain traction with two new Board members of a Bank.  Together, we crafted a note and an introduction – diversity was the secret sauce that allowed him to have a conversation and initiate relationships where previously, the door had been shut.

Last week, Richard Iferenta and I held a networking dinner with a major insurance client, bringing together our respective African Caribbean networks.  The energy in the room by the end of the evening was palpable and many new relationships have been initiated as a direct result, including with their UK MD.

Many colleagues throughout the firm are already leading on diversity and inclusion – and reaping the benefits.  Through Mel Richards’ leadership of the 30% club we have accessed 12 FTSE 100 Chairmen directly, based on an initial conversation about diversity.  Claire Warnes initiated the Sport is Beautiful exhibition that went down a storm with clients.  Michelle Quest and Ingrid Waterfield lead our interaction with the Agile Future Forum.  Warren Mead led our LGBT engagement at Out on the Street and The Pink News election debate. Stephen Ball, CLP for UBS, Alex Holt, CLP for BT, Jon Mills, FS Audit, with a Hedge Fund client, and Bernard Brown, CLP for MoD, have all used inclusive leadership with their clients to great effect in the last month.

The real differentiator for KPMG, compared with our competitors, is that we are walking the talk.  We are practising what we preach.  We have the strategy, data and anecdotes to prove it.

This year, we’ll be holding our second Inclusion Week with lots of client involvement, 5-9 October, so mark your diaries.  Let’s get Partners and colleagues there who might most benefit, and can in turn benefit their clients.

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