KPMG (‘Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler’) is an international professional services firm. As one of the Big 4 accounting companies along with PwC, Deloitte and EY, this British-Dutch company operates in 147 companies with over 225,000 employees. In 2020, KPMG had a total revenue of $29.22 billion. In 2017, it was 29th in the Fortune list of the top 100 companies to work for, and among the top 25 UK companies to work for. This financial firm, launched after a 1987 merger, is one of the biggest services companies in the world. Overall, it has an average rating. Despite its efforts to raise awareness of sustainability across the world, the lack of transparency and commitment to its own environmental progress leaves it with more accountability and improvement for the future.
The company KPMG is fundamentally made up of 3 main lines of financial services: financial audit, tax and advisory. These make up 38%, 22% and 40% of the company’s revenue respectively. In addition to the make-up and structure of the company, they also use a variety of resources. While working from home and online reduces some material resources needed, they still have their physical offices all over the world, in places such as London, Atlanta, Quebec, New York and Moscow. While they don’t disclose much information about their physical inventory, KPMG claims that all of their photocopy paper is ‘EcoLogo certified’, processed as Chlorine Free (PCF), made using biogas energy (landfill methane) and is ‘Forest Stewardship Council certified’ (FSC). Similarly, they say that 31% of their buildings are LEED Gold standard. While this is good, there is evidently a long way to go to make this 100%.
In terms of sustainability, KPMG have published their environmental policy since 1990, the first financial services company to do so. They also produce an annual Survey of Sustainability Reporting, founded in 1993. Throughout their website, they include a ‘Climate Insights’ and ‘Impacts’ platform which includes various articles on news, advice and awareness concerning sustainability, decarbonisation and events like COP26. While this is good that they are promoting discussions on the environment, their own commitments and acts are harder to find and more vague. They include some examples of past work, such as helping their clients rethink Australian food waste and helping a Taiwanese social enterprise be more sustainable. On a more tangible basis, they have launched a $1.5 billion fund to help drive sustainability at the firm, such as training their employees, investments to meet targets and getting specialist advice. Similarly, their overall assets in ESG funds have doubled to around $2.2 billion in 2020. The overall products of the company are not focused around sustainability; however, they have lots of information surrounding the environment and developments. Although they have invested some money into sustainability investments, this needs to be further prioritised in the future to meet effective climate goals while also increasing their transparency about their current sustainability figures.
KPMG functions through their physical offices as well as online working. While the pandemic may have decreased their carbon footprint due to reduced travelling to clients or the office, there is still more room to improve. Throughout their company and financial services, KPMG has proposed an 8-step plan to working towards sustainability and net-zero emissions. This includes acts like disclosing one’s ‘decarbonisation governance’, being ‘transparent about your emissions’ and describing net-zero targets ‘with a detailed plan’ in how it is integrated into the company’s corporate strategy. While this advice is helpful, it is extremely vague and these broad claims and promotion of sustainability needs to be backed up by facts. KPMG have set out several sustainability goals for the future such as their plan to be net-zero by 2030, using 100% renewable electricity by 2024, making ‘significant carbon reductions’ in their supply chain through their Sustainable Procurement Programme and becoming a zero-waste business by 2030. These commitments seem great and demonstrate KPMG’s commitment against climate change. However, their websites lack clear information on the state and progress of these claims, which is important for evaluating their overall sustainability. KPMG has achieved some environmental awards, such as being given ‘Supplier Engagement Leadership status’ from the CDP in 2020, a Carbon Disclosure Project A-rating, and ISO50001 certification for energy management (2019) as well as being short-listed in 2021 for Sustainability at Home and Business Green leaders award. Although these various accolades are impressive and KPMG is undoubtedly attempting to spread awareness of sustainability and work to set-out their own goals, they need to improve on their transparency in making clear through data their own environmental progress.
The company KPMG was founded by Roger Mitchell, Barclay Peat and William Barclay Peat. Its current Global Chairman and CEO since October 2017 is Bill Thomas. In addition to its 227,000 employees and executive board, KPMG also has a range of people specifically working towards sustainability. For example, Mike Hayes serves as the Global Head of Climate Change, Decarbonisation and Renewable. Simon Weaver, a partner, works as Co-head of Climate risk and strategy, while Anne-Cecile Moreno works as the Dutch Climate Lead. Similarly, Tom Brown works as KPMG’s international ESG special adviser. In addition to these executive employee’s KPMG’s IMPACT network expands to hundreds of employees working in over 60 firms, as well as KPMG’s work with companies like technology firm Philips, pharmaceutical company Sanofi, Ikea as well as national governments to help further promote sustainability. This shows that while not all of their employees are fully trained in sustainability, KMPG makes an effort to get trained specialists to derive effective strategies going forward.
Overall, KPMG has an average rating. While compared to other financial services firms, KPMG is doing lots of work to promote awareness of climate change and sustainability, as well as promoting their own commitments, they lack specific clarity and data about this. In the future, they need to increase their transparency about their progress of these sustainability goals as well as work further in their product and production line to promote these ideals. Similarly, they could invest more of their profits into working with environmental charities and projects to help on a more tangible and direct basis. Overall, KPMG has promise going into the future but needs to put in work to further their sustainability and accountability.