Global audit and tax advisory service KPMG has been announced as the Founding Sponsor of a recently launched initiative from Out Leadership to boost the number of openly LGBT directors on corporate boards.
Launched in 2011, Out Leadership is a campaigning, advocacy and networking organization committed to advancing LGBT inclusion within the business world.
It hold annual summits around the world focused on LGBT inclusion in the financial, legal and corporate sectors.
Its Quorum initiative was launched last year in response to a disproportionate lack of openly LGBT directors on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.
‘We estimate that there are currently fewer than 10 openly LGBT directors of Fortune 500 companies – less than 0.3%,’ said Out Leadership Founder and Principal Todd Sears in a statement.
‘Only two companies in the Fortune 500 reference sexual orientation or gender identity in their board diversity statements. But board diversity enhances corporate performance, mitigates risk, and helps create market opportunities.
‘Quorum seeks to connect qualified LGBT board candidates with companies who will benefit from their skills and perspective.’
Quorum was launched with initial seed funding from the David Bohnett Foundation and Arcus Foundation. In its first year, Out Leadership says Quorum concentrated on building a qualified list of senior LGBT executives and potential director candidates, and held events in New York and San Francisco to raise awareness of the issue with senior business leaders.
In a statement about KPMG’s backing of the project, Suzanne Townsen, KPMG’s National Managing Partner, HR, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility said, ‘At KPMG, we know that integrating different perspectives into the highest levels of a company’s governance has the potential to create substantial business impact.
‘Board diversity generally, and LGBT inclusion on corporate boards, is an increasingly important part of the global conversation around how companies run best.’
KPMG in the UK announced in 2014 that it wanted to boost its LGBT employee ratio from a figure of 3% to 4.1% by 2018, with Simon Collins, UK Chairman of KPMG, saying at the time, ‘We need to commit to ambitions which are quantifiable and against which we can be judged.’
KPMG in the US has not responded to a request from Gay Star Business as to whether it has any openly LGBT directors on its own board, or if it monitors employees sexual orientation or gender identity.
The company has consistently scored the top mark of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index – a ranking based on LGBT inclusive practices and policies.
Commenting on the aims of Quorum, Juan Herrera, our Director of Talent Initiatives at Out Leadership said, ‘Increasing LGBT presence on corporate boards is one of the most important next steps in the effort to achieve full LGBT equality.
‘Companies make their most important decisions in the board room, affecting the daily lives of millions of LGBT people everywhere.’
News of the sponsorship agreement was welcomed by Suki Sandhu, CEO and Founder of LGBT executive networking group OUTstanding and recruitment company Audeliss.
‘It is vital that there are more visible role models at the top of businesses to provide inspiration to anyone who doesn’t currently feel represented at the top, to drive diverse talent acquisition and retention.’