We are one of the most successful economies in the modern world, but some people are being left behind.
What can we do better on homelessness, poverty, intergenerational unemployment and mental health?
When we become a little too focussed on our own success (that car, the next pay rise), it is a good time to reflect that as a society we can only truly succeed if we bring everyone along with us. There will always be differences but we cannot allow poverty, homelessness, increasing issues around mental health, disadvantage and lack of opportunity to go unchallenged. We can’t just pay our taxes and make it someone else’s problem.
I think it’s pretty easy to rationalise why it’s so important that we each shoulder a little additional collective responsibility in our already busy lives. What goes around comes around. We know from friends or family, or even times in our own lives, where a little extra help was needed. Bad things happen to good people; it’s not just about “welfare handouts”.
And increasingly, this is what we all expect from our employers and with those that we choose to do business.
As a partner of KPMG, I’m proud that our firm has such a strong social agenda position which is both publicly stated and communicated throughout the organisation. We believe that our nation will not realise its full potential until everyone has equal access to opportunity, with business playing a vital role in solving social and environmental issues. This is what our people want and expect from their employer.
As a leader in Corporate Citizenship, KPMG harnesses the energy and capabilities of our people to empower positive change for our community. In 2016, we launched our Social Impact Framework to continue our focus on Australia’s most pressing problems and to concentrate our efforts on initiatives where we can have the greatest impact. They align with four of the UN Sustainable Development Goals:
- Reduced Inequalities for Indigenous Australia;
- Climate Action;
- Quality Education; and
- Mental Health.
The same vast array of professional services that we provide to corporate Australia we also provide pro bono, or heavily subsidised, to assist in the development of those parts of society that are disadvantaged and lack opportunity.
We also create a framework for our staff to volunteer their time and skills at a local level. For many years, every staff member has been allocated a day’s leave to volunteer their time to a cause close to their hearts. Last spring, we added a firm-wide volunteering event. It was incredibly gratifying to join half of our entire workforce on that special day and work in teams on community projects across Australia.
I also look forward to joining the KPMG team and other corporates in the Ride for Youth event at the end of this month, where we’ll ride for over 4.5 days and more than 700kms to raise funds and awareness for Youth Focus.
We’ll be visiting schools in country towns along the way, discussing the issues around youth suicide, depression, anxiety and self-harm, as well as the support services that Youth Focus provide. For me, the ride also provides a pathway to look after my own mental health and make a contribution to an at-risk part of our community.
I hope KPMG is making a difference not just directly, but by inspiring other organisations to embrace opportunities to engage with their people and the communities in which they operate.