For more than 30 years, KPMG has been a leader in professional services offering financial audits, tax, and advisory services to a global network of clients. Together with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the “big four” make up the vast majority of audits and provide services to as many as 97% of global businesses.
With such a broad reach and an employee count of over 200,000 globally, KPMG’s recruitment process is crucial to its continued success. To promote inclusion and diversity among its applicants, KPMG NL set out to digitally transform their hiring process to ensure they are in line with the company values and beliefs.
To achieve their goals, KPMG NL partnered with Harver to redesign its application process for entry-level hires. With Harver, all candidates follow a data-driven application process that assesses their hard and soft skills using a combination of personality questionnaires, cognitive ability assessments, and situational judgment tests. By evaluating candidates’ skills at the onset, KPMG NL was able to safeguard against unconscious bias during the evaluation process and guarantee each candidate is treated equally— regardless of their background or previous experience.
The results were clear: the number of female hires increased by 44%.
The Professional Services and Consulting industry in which KPMG NL operates, has traditionally been a male-dominated field with as many as 66% of new hires identifying as male. This was not an accurate representation of KPMG’s belief in a company culture that strives for equality and embraces, respects and values differences of all people.
As Bill Thomas, Global Chairman KPMG International stated, “For KPMG inclusion and diversity is both a business and moral imperative that builds trust and compels us to stand up for what is right. Diverse teams are more likely to be innovative and commercial, and inclusive work cultures that embrace ethical behavior position themselves for success.”
This statement reflects KPMG’s belief that improved diversity is not only morally right but is also good for business and overall company success.
To transform their recruitment process, KPMG NL outlined two initial areas of focus aimed at increasing the diversity of applicants and new hires.
1) Showcase the diverse company culture
KPMG NL knew they needed to focus on applicants, and not only on new hires, to ensure they were attracting a diverse set of talent to their available and open vacancies. To encourage female applicants, KPMG NL wanted to make sure to showcase a diverse representation of their company, culture, and team throughout the application process.
2) Assess candidates’ abilities upfront
To guarantee that all candidates are offered an equal opportunity regardless of their background, KPMG NL implemented a series of scientifically validated assessments as part of the application. Empowered with this new candidate data, recruiters were trained to evaluate candidates based on hard and soft skills rather than their background or university pedigree.
To achieve their objectives, KPMG NL turned to Harver for support. From the outset, it was clear that a technology-focused solution that emphasized candidate data and leveraged assessments was the clearest way to standardize the application process and guarantee all candidates received equal treatment. Furthermore, the option to add custom videos to the application experience and provide a realistic job preview would allow KPMG NL to showcase their inclusive company culture right from the start.
1) Celebrate diversity in the application process
With Harver, KPMG NL redesigned its entire application process to make it more engaging and representative of its brand. Rather than simply submitting a motivation letter and attaching a CV, candidates are treated to a ‘day in the life’ of a KPMG NL employee. By spotlighting the company, the culture, and introducing candidates to various colleagues, KPMG is able to craft the narrative around its brand and tell its story. The videos illustrate the company’s diverse culture by showcasing employees from various ethnicities, backgrounds, and genders. It also speaks to the company’s relaxed atmosphere, multiple opportunities for upward mobility, and highlights both male and female managers in leadership positions.
2) Implement scientifically-validated assessments
To fight unconscious bias in the recruitment process and provide all applicants with an equal opportunity across the board, KPMG NL implemented a series of assessments used to evaluate candidates’ future performance.
Using the HEXACO Personality questionnaire, KPMG was able to assess candidates based on a six-dimensional model of human personality: honesty-humility (H), emotionally (E), extraversion (X), agreeableness (A), conscientiousness (C), and openness to experience (O). Their results are then cross-referenced with the characteristics and personality traits of high performing employees to look for correlations and matches.
In addition to the personality questionnaire, candidates’ Cognitive Ability and problem-solving skills are also assessed using various games that challenge their ability to deconstruct patterns, test their numerical reasoning, and assess their ability to identify new relationships and patterns. This evaluates candidates’ abilities to handle complexity and identify patterns in their work to find solutions to difficult problems.
Along with the personality and cognitive ability assessments, candidates are also evaluated on realistic Situational Judgement tests. These tests are unique to the specific role and present candidates with hypothetical scenarios typical of the role and ask them to identify the most appropriate response. This test is strong in assessing a candidate’s behavioral tendencies, and predicting how candidates would respond in certain situations.
The combination of these assessments made it easier for recruiters to evaluate candidates based on their performance rather than unconscious biases for specific backgrounds, experiences, or a specific gut-feeling about a candidate that can be inherently biased and prejudiced.
After implementing Harver, KPMG NL saw a 35% increase in applicants, with a 47% increase in female applicants across KPMG NL’s entry-level positions.
To really confirm that there was a correlation between applicants and new hires, KPMG NL did an analysis and found that their new application process and practices had also led to a 44% increase in female hires. KPMG NL went from 34% of new hires identifying as female to 40%. in their first cycle of the program.
This confirmed that not only were more females applying and interested in pursuing opportunities at KPMG NL, but more of them were successful in the application and interview process and were ultimately hired as valued members of the team.