Elevating Women in the Workforce, Inspirational Advice, Networking and More? That’s a Hole in One!

Sponsored by KPMG

Elena Richards and Sandy Torchia

Photos courtesy of KPMG LLP.

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April 13, 2024 at 7:17PM UTC

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship combines an annual world-class, major golf championship on the LPGA Tour with the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit and KPMG Future Leaders Program — all of which are focused on the advancement and empowerment of women, both on and off the golf course. 

Does this sound interesting to you? In this article, we’ll take a look at this innovative and empowering event, and hear details and advice from two leaders who attended the event.

Your inside look into the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.

One key part of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit. In a nutshell, the summit is full of high-impact leadership development content; offers access to top leaders from across business, entertainment, politics, sports and the media; and provides attendees with ample networking opportunities.

A video about the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.

“The KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit brings together today’s most accomplished leaders in business, politics, sports and, media to inspire rising women leaders who are nominated by the CEOs of their organizations to participate,” explains KPMG Vice Chair of Talent and Culture Sandy Torchia. “Our goal for the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit is clear: to help more women in business move into the C-suite. Nearly half of past Summit attendees have been promoted, including 32 percent to C-suite positions.”

During the annual Summit, KPMG releases the findings of its survey of women business leaders (SVP-level) who are steps away from the C-suite. Notably, the findings from this year’s report cited both burnout and mental health as major considerations for women executives who are working to balance business goals and their team’s best interests.

During the event, speakers spoke about these oft-taboo topics and unpacked ways to make the workplace more equitable for women. This year’s line-up of speakers was headlined by Indra Nooyi, the former Chairman and CEO PepsiCo, who received the 2022 KPMG Inspire Greatness award. Attendees also heard from Olympic Gold Medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Dominique Dawes, Dr. Condoleezza Rice and other top business leaders.

“Every year the Summit is inspirational, and this year was no different,” Elena Richards says. 

All the net proceeds from the Championship and Summit fund the KPMG Future Leaders Program, a charitable initiative focused on developing future generations of women leaders. It does this through college scholarships, mentoring and leadership development.

“We recently welcomed our 2022 class of Future Leaders, of which 78% represented women of color. Since the program’s inception, we have provided a total of 144 female high school graduates with $4.5 million in scholarships,” Richards explains.

Additionally, ahead of this year’s Summit, KPMG and the PGA of America announced that they significantly increased the purse size for the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, doubling it to $9 million. 

“The significantly increased purse size — combined with historically significant Championship venues in major markets played previously by men, network TV coverage and advanced data and analytics capabilities provided via KPMG Performance Insights for the players to diagnose and improve their performance — are examples of how we are continuing to elevate the world-class athletes on the LPGA Tour,” Torchia says. 

Of course, the Summit is only one example of how KPMG elevates women — the firm supports women throughout the year! To hear more, we reached out to Elena Richards and Sandy Torchia to learn about their best advice and experiences at KPMG.

Advice for growing your career from two accomplished leaders.

Richards is an accomplished professional in the HR, talent management and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) fields. She’s been able to grow her career and become a DEI leader by focusing on learning the business first, which she says is a key step in order to advance to any leadership level.

“From there, intentionally developing relationships at every level across the organization helps to provide greater visibility among key decision-makers; positions you as an active listener, collaborator and problem solver; and raises the visibility of the value you bring to the organization,” she adds. “Becoming well-versed in human capital data and understanding the experiences people have throughout their career life cycles is critical to driving change.”

Over the past 12 months, Richards has been able to build a strong community among other chief DEI officers and leaders responsible for integrating DEI into the business — from talent acquisition to succession planning. For her, coming together to cross-share leading practices around creating more equitable workplaces and responding to societal issues has been a rewarding experience. From this community building, she and her team have developed recommendations of key best practices that newly appointed diversity leaders can apply within their first 100 days in the role

“It’s also been incredibly rewarding to have played a leading role in the development of KPMG’s first U.S. DEI Transparency Report, which established our DEI commitments and outlined our plans to refine KPMG as an employer of choice for underrepresented talent and foster an inclusive environment for everyone to thrive,” she adds, noting that these metrics are now included in the firm’s KPMG U.S. Impact Plan.

Throughout her career journey, Elena says that she has benefited greatly from others investing in her personal and professional growth, including a host of mentors and executive sponsors who guided her along the way and who advocated for her career development with decision-makers. That’s why she adds that reciprocity is so important to ensure we’re bringing along the next generation of leaders to follow, and she intends to pay it forward.

“As a woman of color especially, it’s important to take some risks to achieve your personal aspirations and remember to intentionally create a space to serve as a mentor and sponsor to support the next generation of women leaders,” she tells Fairygodboss.

As a leader herself, she offers some advice for women who are looking to start their careers at KPMG and want to grow into leadership roles.

“To be an effective DEI practitioner and leader, it’s important to understand what is critical to your organization’s overall business strategy, leverage listening channels to assess the experience of underrepresented talent throughout their career lifecycle and use data to help prioritize and inform solutions,” Richards says. “Don’t lose sight of the fact that when you solve for one community such as women, it likely has a broader positive impact on other underrepresented groups and your organization at large.”

Additionally, she urges all DEI leaders to remember to take time for self-care. Doing this work requires resiliency, she admits, so it’s important.

“There is a tremendous amount of opportunity at KPMG for women that are looking to grow their careers,” Richards adds. “I highly recommend that women invest in credentialing themselves as a subject matter expert in their sector or industry, deepen their business acumen to be effective in the marketplace, take strategic risks by seeking out stretch assignments and demonstrate the highest level of care for people through values-driven leadership.”

And her colleague Torchia agrees, adding that investing time in building relationships is seriously important.

“Join local and company-sponsored employee resource groups, attend networking events, and fine-tune your LinkedIn profile,” Torchia recommends. “You never know where relationships will lead, and it never hurts to have as many people as possible familiar with what you do and what you have to offer.”

Additionally, while networking, spend as much time listening as you do talking, she says.

“Listening is critical in leadership positions. Over the course of my career, I’ve recognized that listening to and supporting employees is key to the success of any business,” Torchia tells us. 

For Torchia, these tips have taken her far. After all, she’s an accomplished professional in the people strategy field. She joined KPMG 25 years ago as an associate and has served in many roles, worked on numerous client accounts and has held a variety of leadership roles throughout her tenure. She’s also lived and worked in many different cities.

Leading a multi-billion-dollar business as a national managing partner for KPMG’s U.S. Advisory practice, for example, was interesting and challenging on a number of levels, she says. But one of the things that she is most proud of from that time was helping to build a diverse and inclusive culture for the firm’s 17,000 Advisory professionals. 

“As a diverse leader myself, I knew that this was critical to our success — I am a strong believer that the number one quality of a great team is diversity of thought and respect for that diversity of thought,” Torchia says of the experience. “I am hoping to build upon that belief in my new role by working with leaders across our firm to bring our Talent, Culture and DEI teams even closer together, creating a more amazing experience for our professionals and further amplifying everything that we are doing as a firm.” “I learned early on that meeting the needs of my team has always been just as important as meeting the needs of my clients, and it’s served me well.”

Taking on her new role feels like a natural next step for her, Torchia explains. Over the course of her career, she’s recognized that supporting people is paramount to the success of any business — and that talent and culture are “strategic enablers of business strategy.” That’s why her advice to other women is to understand why they are interested in the work and what unique perspective they can bring to the table.

“I have had so many unique opportunities to learn and grow in my career and they haven’t always followed a traditional or linear path,” she says. “Through it all, the one thing that’s held true for me is my passion for and commitment to people—and that has carried me through to where I am today. Even if your career goes in several different directions, if you stay true to what inspires and motivates you, you will have a career that you enjoy and one where you can be successful.”

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