By W. Scott Horne
I came out at KPMG when, during my final interview with then-Chairman and CEO Tim Flynn, I mentioned that I sing with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. I was authentic and purposeful because I knew that if being gay was an issue, I did not want to work here.
I was thrilled when I received an offer, and accepted immediately.
More than 11 years later, attending my first pride@kpmg conference last week in Denver, it’s clearer than ever that, as a firm, KPMG is inclusive and supportive, that there is a strong and growing LGBTQ presence at all levels, and, importantly, we have a strong and growing ally network. We also have more to do.
Centered on the theme Ally 360, the packed agenda included a wide ranging yet cohesive set of topics, perspectives from KPMG leaders and clients, and opportunities to develop skills and build our networks across the firm. Our new Chief Diversity Officer, Michele Meyer- Shipp, set the tone for the conference with two self-descriptors—authentic and transparent. She also talked about her personal board of directors and mentors, and encouraged each of us to build our own boards.
Breakout sessions offered tips on building strong relationships, effective communication, workplace savviness and navigating unwritten rules, and the critical skills, knowledge, attributes, and personal accountability required to contribute at an exceptional level and sustain high performance.
I’ve been asked by colleagues to share standout moments, but it’s hard to choose. A surprisingly moving panel discussion of partner allies was moderated by Executive Director, Talent Development Tori Farmer, and included Denver Office Managing Partner (OMP) Mike Bearup, Audit Partner and Houston pride@kpmg Partner Champion John Christopher, Audit Partner and AIM Advisory Board Member Lisa Hackard, and Houston OMP Tandra Jackson. Each talked about their own journey—and ultimately choice—to becoming an ally, and how each one of us can be allies to others.
Importantly, I was struck by the breadth of professionals and experience among my pride@kpmg colleagues; the level of support from partners and senior leaders; the informed, thought-provoking external speaker; and the candor and honest conversations shared as we explored the importance and challenges of bringing our full selves to work—openly.
I came away from my first Pride Conference with a fresh perspective, renewed enthusiasm, and pride in the investment the firm has made in our people, and me.
W. Scott Horne is a member of KPMG's Corporate Communications team.
W. Scott Horne