Recently KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services has promoted 2 women about to go on maternity leave. This is an unusual move within the corporate industry, as children have traditionally been viewed as a barrier to moving up the corporate ladder.

Could promoting women while pregnant be the solution to getting more women on boards and improving overall statistics for women in leadership roles?

Angela Priestly, journalist for the online publication ‘Women’s Agenda’ finds out in her most recent article below:


There’s a major problem facing ambitious women in law and accounting firms.

Many women approach the partner level just as they approach another major milestone in life: having children.

It’s not the only reason, but at least one of the reasons why the number of female partners in professional firms tends to be well below that of the number of male partners — often averaging less than 20%.

 So this week’s news that KPMG has not only promoted a record number of female partners, but also a record number of women who’re working flexibly and/or on or about to take maternity leave, is certainly positive.

KPMG has appointed 51 new partners and executive directors, 19 of them are women. That’s 37%, up from 24% last year.

Two women have been promoted to partner while on, or about to take maternity leave. As the Financial Review reports, 35-year-old Courtney West is expected to give birth to her first child at the end of July, the same month she officially commences as partner. She said she always believed having a child could fit with her partner ambitions with the firm and plans to take six months maternity leave. Another five of the new female partners are working either three or four days a week.

It’s not unheard of for women to be appointed partner while about to take or while on maternity leave. KPMG managing partner Rosheen Garnon recently told Women’s Agenda she was appointed partner while pregnant with her first child, while Deloitte’s Margaret Dreyer and Cindy Hook were also promoted while pregnant.

However, it’s not the kind of positive news we hear enough in order to better tell women such career opportunities can be tailored around having children and taking leave. Often, such news goes the other way: consider the reaction when Marissa Mayer was appointed CEO of Yahoo, while pregnant with her first child. The news made international headlines for months, while just how she was going to manage the return to work became everyone’s business. This week, US dating entrepreneur Talia Goldstein has written about how she hid her pregnancy while fundraising for her now successful start-up Three Day Rule out of fear it would turn off investors, and even felt “ashamed and upset” at herself for getting pregnant during such a crucial time for the business.

Pregnant women and new mothers can’t be ignored when it comes to making major appointments. They can not be ignored in accounting firms or law firms, or any company that boasts about promoting talent based on merit — merit doesn’t disappear upon conception. Meanwhile, the same must be said for entrepreneurs like Goldstein. Why should a pregnant woman present a red flag to potential investors or new clients?

KPMG currently has a 25% target for female partners by July 2016, with this week’s partner announcement putting the firm’s current state of progress at 20%, up from 16% in 2012.

The firm still has a long way to go in reaching anything like gender partity in senior leadership positions. But these initial steps certainly help and show a desire for progress.

The only thing that’s missing are the men who’re either working part time or about the take maternity leave. Not one of the 32 promoted men is working flexibly, according to the AFR.

Something to work on for the future.

To view similar articles visit Women’s Agenda website: