Blog Post

Diversity Dialogue with Chris Brown, KPMG

November 15, 2016
KPMG class=
Chris Brown

Chris is a Partner in KPMG’s US Banking and Finance practice. He is also a member of KPMG’s Diversity Advisory Board and is co-chair of AIM, KPMG’s resource group for employees with disabilities and employees who are caregivers of those with disabilities. Chris was the 2016 winner of the Above and Beyond Award in the Affinity Group Leadership.

1. Tell us a little bit about AIM. (please include how long it has been around, how many members and a little bit about how it functions).

Abilities in Motion (AIM) was established in 2007 by KPMG partners and employees who provide leadership and action around disability inclusion for the firm. AIM’s Mission is to foster an environment that supports partners and employees who have a disability, or who have a child or other dependent with special needs, as they build their careers at KPMG. The organization is led by an Advisory Board who focuses their efforts on enhancing the workplace, workforce, and the marketplace. There are approximately 1,300 network members across the firm and 14 AIM chapters.

2. One of the most impressive accomplishments of the AIM Network is the focus on a talent development strategy for its members. Can you tell us about the strategy and programs you have put in place? What have the outcomes been of these initiatives so far? 

We are very proud of our signature programs for talent development: AIM 1i5 and our Inspiring Change, Influencing Inclusion conference.

AIM 1i5:

  • AIM 1i5 is a junior council of KPMG emerging leaders, started in 2015 to support growing a pipeline of the top talent of people with disabilities and caregivers. Participants must apply to be a part of the two-year program and experience the opportunity to create programming and events surrounding disability inclusion, and contribute to our firm’s conversation on diversity in the workforce.  Each participant is mentored by an Advisory Board member or a member of firm leadership. The 1i5 stands for the 1 in 5 employees nationally who have a disability in the workplace.Inspiring Change, Influencing Inclusion:
  • Inspiring Change, Influencing Inclusion is a career and personal development conference that provides participants with the opportunity to explore their potential as leaders, build confidence, deepen their influencing skills, and expand their relationships within KPMG. The two-day program supports the careers of high-performing network members including veterans, military spouses, people with disabilities, those who are caregivers, and their allies.

3. How has the work of AIM fit into the bigger D&I picture at KPMG? What have been some key partnerships that have supported the network’s success? 

KPMG’s corporate responsibility strategy includes driving increased diversity, developing next-generation leaders, and instilling inclusive leadership. AIM contributes to those efforts in numerous ways, from the work we do advising our firm’s recruiting efforts, to our leadership development programming, to the national education and training sessions we offer. Additionally, KPMG’s partnerships with organizations such as the US Business Leadership Network and Special Olympics are an extension of our goals and values, and provide meaningful experiences that benefit our communities and inspire our people.

4. You were nominated by your peers for the Affinity Group Leadership Award for DBP’s Above and Beyond Awards (and won!). How do you see your role in AIM evolving and how are you supporting the next wave of leaders? 

I’ve spent my time as co-chair focused on leadership development. It’s a passion of mine and one I believe is essential to our success. My goal is to throw every idea I have on the table while mentoring the next generation. I believe that in order to be innovative you have to have diversity of people and ideas. AIM has grown at a frenetic pace and to manage that we’ve recognized we need a diverse group of leaders both today and tomorrow. It’s been amazing to me how much of an impact our emerging leaders have already made in such a short time– and the energy that is brought to the table by new members is contagious.

5. One of the aspects of your leadership that was highlighted in your nomination was your willingness to share your own story as a person with a disability and a caregiver of a person with a disability. How have you influenced other leaders at KPMG to share their own diverse stories as a way of building an inclusive culture at KPMG? 

It was a long path to get to the point where I was willing to share my story and I want our partners and employees to get there much quicker and easier than I did. I’ve found that my role with AIM allows me a perfect introduction to tell my story. Once the discussion starts there is always a personal connection that can be made. That personal connection is the key. The people I talk to leave the room and then share their story with the next person down the line. As these connections grow it helps to build an inclusive culture and that’s been my goal.

6. How has your role as the leader of AIM helped you develop as a leader within your line of business and in the larger organization? 

Being co-chair has been an amazing opportunity. My role in AIM also means I am on KPMG’s Diversity Advisory Board (DAB) which is led by our Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie. As part of the DAB I’ve been able to interact closely with some of the most respected professionals in our business and I’ve learned a lot about leadership during this process. The thoughtfulness, professionalism and care that the members bring to every interaction is something I really strive to emulate. My co-chair Shaun Kelly is our global COO and has been a great mentor and role model to me. The skills and confidence I’ve gained from this interaction have been invaluable to me in serving my clients. It’s also helped me get better at mentoring and guiding our next generation of leaders.