KPMG - Bold Girls Initiative

KPMG Logo

Business Type: Professional Services
Location: Dublin/Belfast/Cork/Galway
No. of Employees: 3,300
Does your company/organisation have a CSR Strategy?: Yes

Company Background

KPMG in Ireland is a provider of professional services, offering a range of audit, tax and advisory services to a broad range of domestic and international clients across all sectors of business and the economy. We operate on an all-Ireland basis and have 94 partners and 3,000 people in offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway.

At KPMG we believe in Corporate Citizenship. It is at the heart of all great organisations, and we are committed to making a real difference to the communities in which we operate. All organisations have responsibility to their people, their clients and societies. We believe a real commitment to Corporate Citizenship unites an organisation, strengthens its reputation and creates vital links with the communities in which it operates. We want our employees to be part of this effort and actively get involved in community activities that will ultimately make a real positive impact on society.

KPMG Ireland works with Business in the Community on their Business Impact Map, which captures an organizations impact on society. In 2018 KPMG had the following impacts:
Community Connections = 134
Volunteer Hours =13,023
Cash Donations = €287,704
Employee Fundraising = €123,172
In-kind donations = €874,098

Overview of CSR Programme – Bold Girls


To celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland, Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) planned to print a reading guide in 2018, containing books about, written and illustrated by women. At KPMG we recognised that this presented a unique opportunity to create a bespoke volunteering programme for our people based on the idea of these ‘BOLD GIRLS.’ We approached CBI with the idea of creating a skill-based volunteering programme to compliment the planned booklet.

Volunteers from KPMG have delivered the workshops to 32 different primary-school classes around the country explaining in detail about inspiring women from history/art/every day and how they were confident, brave and bold. The workshops are designed to be hands-on, engaging, interactive, thought-provoking and fun! The BOLD GIRLS workshops aim is to break down societal barriers and to instil confidence in girls by showing them female characters in children’s books with passion, power and opinions, addressing at a young age some of the issues that stand in the way of women achieving their ambitions.

In the last year 60 KPMG volunteers have delivered the four-week workshops to 32 classes and impacted over 800 students and donated over 1,000 books. KPMG focuses on skills-based volunteering, using the talent and training of our staff to make a positive difference especially in the education arena.

This initiative aligns with our literacy programme and encouraging students to read but it also supports our Inclusion and Diversity strategy.

The importance of role models is a major factor in helping children see beyond stereotypes and to maximise their full potential:
- A 2011 Florida State University study of 5,600 children’s books published in the 20th century found a huge gender imbalance. Male characters were central in 57% of books, while only 31% had female central characters. Males featured in the titles of over a third (36.5%) of books each year, but less than a fifth (17.5%) of titles referred to a female character. This “contributes to a sense of unimportance among girls and a sense of privilege among boys.
- Time magazine listed the 100 best children’s books of all time – only 53 had females that speak
- Across children’s media only 19.5% of female characters hold jobs or have career aspirations versus 80.5% of male characters (SeeJane.org Occupational Aspirations 2013).

We are proud to be the third largest contributor of volunteer hours in Ireland (based on 57 organisations reporting through the Business in the Community Business Impact Map). We focus on skills-based volunteering, using the talent and training of our people to make a positive difference- especially in the area of education.

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Strategy & Initiation

The BOLD GIRLS project celebrates strong, confident, intelligent, brave women and girls in children’s books, giving them much-needed visibility alongside their male counterparts.

Given the challenge of gender inequality at senior management and representation on Boards, this initiative is an innovate way to engage 7/8 year olds to recognise and celebrate females in books and to highlight wonderful women who have had a positive impact on our world. The programme is designed to help participants open up discussion, develop full potential, instil confidence and support aspirations to be anything they want to be.
The focus in KPMG is on skills-based volunteering, using the talent and training of our staff who are highly educated to make a positive difference especially in the education space.

The BOLD GIRLS programme is a perfect alliance with our Citizenship approach, as this not only directly aligns with our literacy programme and encouraging students to read (Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education) but it also aligns with our Inclusion and Diversity strategy by promoting gender equality and focusing on females (Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality).

Once the partnership was established and the programme created and finalised, KPMG’s marketing team began to create all the merchandise that we needed to fill our volunteer resource pack. This pack contained a specially designed volunteer guide, filled with information and photographic collateral for our volunteers. We also created and branded slides to accompany the volunteers to the schools, to aid in the learning.

To coincide with International Women’s Day, we held the launch of our BOLD GIRLS programme in St Mary’s N.S, which received national coverage. This event was well branded with various printed materials, which provided the back-drop to great photographic collateral that we have used in our branded volunteer guidance documents. Staff participated in this event by reading ‘The Princess in black’ and holding a quiz afterwards. On the same day events were also held in schools in Cork, Galway and Belfast with staff from each of our regional offices involved with a similar event.

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Challenges


The BOLD GIRLS programme has been welcomed by schools, teachers and students who we have engaged with. The biggest challenge we faced was when one mixed boy/girl school questioned the programme and felt that the boys would be disenfranchised if the focus was on girls. We explained that BOLD GIRLS aim is to break down societal barriers and to instil confidence in girls and young women by showing them female characters in children’s books with agency, power and opinions, addressing at a young age some of the issues that stand in the way of women achieving their ambitions, whether that be in leadership, in government, in the arts. In 2017, the media has highlighted, among other issues, the gender pay gap in various sectors including our national media, sexual harassment of women in the arts in Ireland and internationally, low levels of female representation in government and again in the media. In light of all these things, BOLD GIRLS feels like a timely offering, and a necessary one.

We stressed that BOLD GIRLS is not just for girls. It is equally important that boys and young men read these stories and understand that in modern Ireland everyone should be equal. In fiction, media, government, in traditional portraiture in our cultural institutions, in the narrative around Ireland’s great literary masters, women remain underrepresented.

BOLD GIRLS aims to change this for Ireland’s young people, to celebrate our female ‘masters’ and to empower and inspire a new generation. The BOLD GIRLS workshops are for anyone, regardless of their gender identity by birth or by choice, and we hope they spark conversations that are challenging and perhaps difficult, but which result in understanding and appreciation and which work towards real equality for all.

We have had a number of mixed schools participate in the programme and feedback has been hugely positive from both the girls and boys, it has raised topics and questioned traditional male/female roles/activities and created healthy debate and understanding.

What is the business objective for the CSR activity?

To encourage both literacy and inspiring girls to be whatever they want to be.

Resources required:

Volunteers from across the business to deliver the workshops; books for each classroom participating.

Benefits:

It is enjoyable for our staff to volunteer their time delivering inspirational workshops; the students we work with really engage in the programme and enjoy the content; it makes students think about strong female role models in art, history and modern life and the impact they have had and that our students can have.

How was/is this initiative promoted?
Twitter, website, Linkedin, newspapers.

Do you report on CSR in the Annual Report?
We don’t have an Annual Report but we do have a Transparency Report that we include our CSR information in and we also produce a ‘Making a Difference’ brochure annually.


Business Impact

What are/have been the benefits of this strategy / initiative? Outcome & Results

Between the launch event in Dublin/Cork/Galway/Belfast on International Women’s Day 2018 and the delivery of the four-week workshops to 32 classes, we have had 60 volunteers engaged with the programme. This benefited over 800 students. Each participating class also receives a donation of 30 books to the school library and to date over 1,000 books have been donated.

The response to the BOLD GIRLS workshops has been hugely positive – 100% of our volunteers were “exceptionally happy” with the content and delivery of the programme and would be eager to be involved again and 100% of students enjoyed participating in the workshops.

The programme is designed to open up discussions, talk about anyone reaching their full potential, instilling them with confidence and aspirations to be anything they want to be. The programme is a fun, hands-on, interactive workshop and has been enthusiastically received by students, teachers and our own KPMG volunteers.

KPMG Ireland’s Head of Corporate Citizenship & Diversity presented on the BOLD GIRLS initiative to her global counterparts and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive – KPMG offices in UK, Spain, Poland, China, Australia, Mexico and Brazil all wanted the material to use in their education programmes. We have shared our Volunteer Guides and four module slide deck to use with their local volunteers. This response is testament to how much this programme as timely, relevant, innovative and effective – it is a great way of promoting both literacy and gender diversity engagement. 

KPMG Ireland has continued to roll out the initiative and has supported workshops running in March and October 2018 and March 2019 focused specifically on Deis schools in the catchment areas around KPMG offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast. There is a significant appetite from schools to engage in this innovative initiative.


CSR Dimension

Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020 identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.

Four Dimensions of CSR

Select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
This initiative supports:
The Workplace Dimension giving our employees an opportunity to volunteer for an innovative and engaging class room workshop.

The Community Dimension by delivering our classes to 7-8 year olds in Deis Schools and encouraging girls to be aspirational and give them the confidence that they can be whatever they want to be in life!


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Which SDG goal(s) apply to your CSR initiative?

This initiative supports two goals:
SDG 4 – Quality Education
SDG 5 – Gender Equality

Learning

What advice would you give a business starting their CSR journey?

  • Play to your strengths – look at what value your organisation could provide to a community/not for profit/disadvantaged group.
  • Start small and build on bit-by-bit.
  • Encourage your senior management to support and actively be seen to engage.

Testimonial from Eadaoin Kelly, Principal of St. Mary’s NS, Dorset Street, Dublin 1
Our involvement in the Bold Girls initiative has one of the highlights of our school year. The partnership with Children's Books Ireland and KPMG has given the children in our school the opportunity to engage with reading and high-quality texts in such an exciting and inspiring way. St. Mary's Primary School is situated in Dublin's north inner city. We have 240 children from Junior Infants to 6th Class who come from all over the world and speak over 35 different languages. 88% of our children speak English as an additional language and we are hugely proud of our diverse community. We helped to launch the Bold Girls initiative last year and have been lucky to have several classes take part in the workshops since then, with volunteers from KPMG visiting classes over several weeks - sharing #BoldGirls books with engaging activities.

The workshops and selection of texts have really sparked the children's curiosity. The project highlights the existing gender stereotypes children may have encountered in the books they have read and introduces them to strong, empowered female authors, illustrators, real-life heroines and fictional characters. In each session, the children are enthralled. Each week they ask when it is 'Bold Girls time'. The sessions opened up fantastic discussion and promoted higher level thinking and debate. Thanks to a generous book donation by KPMG, each class has its own selection of Bold Girls books.

Our teachers say that it is the ultimate reward, when a child is finished their learning, to be given the chance to select a Bold Girls book to read. For girls and boys alike, the interest in these books has been incredible. The children articulate very clearly the importance they place on seeing strong, confident female characters in the books they read. For the adults in school, it has given us the opportunity to reflect on our book choices, ensuring our school and class libraries are increasingly gender balanced and that our curriculum, across the school, embraces the aims of the project so that our girls see themselves reflected in the books they read and are encouraged and enabled to be the strong, confident women they aspire to be.

Download a copy of the Case Study as a .pdf

Case Study provided by:
KPMG
November 2019