KPMG quizzes candidates on school meals and parents’ education in bid to recruit more diverse workforce

KPMG has shaken up its recruitment process by asking candidates questions such as whether they were the beneficiary of free school meals as children and if their parents went to university, in a bid to add diversity to its workforce.

Speaking to Business Insider at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week KPMG UK deputy chair Melanie Richards said: “This is all about getting talented individuals who have just made different choices,” Richards says. People who, ordinarily, “don’t think of applying because they know they will be too different in that environment.”

Annually the company needs 25,000 more students globally to enter its career pipeline, of which 1,000 are hired in the UK.

KPMG has previously recruited its UK students from “Russell Group” universities, including the likes of Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool and Birmingham.

However, according to Richards, by hiring from this group the company was hiring the people over and over.

“We were very focused on Russell Group universities. I don’t need to tell you that Russell Group universities have a certain type of student applying to them. And if you’re looking to get to people who are socially mobile you are not going to get them from that group of universities, particularly,” Richards said.

“By only focusing as we did a number of years ago, too heavily on just Russell Group universities … you’re going to get a particular profile even applying to you in the first place.”

She continued: “KPMG regards itself as an innovative employer — and a progressive one. It doesn’t want to exacerbate Britain’s lack of social mobility. And it doesn’t want to miss out on talent from nontraditional backgrounds, either. So the firm decided to start looking elsewhere, to see what it was missing.

“We have a surfeit of talent coming to us, too many people in some respects, so we can be selective. The biggest challenge is making sure we are getting to the broadest spectrum.”

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