KPMG Australia fires staff for using expenses to pay strippers

07 May 2021 2 min. read
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The Australian wing of global advisory giant KPMG has parted ways with several of its Melbourne staff, after it emerged they had allegedly expensed their “boys’ night out” to the firm. The annual trips excluded female employees, and included visits to strip clubs and hospitals in seemingly equal measures.

According to Australian business newspaper AFR members of KPMG's Melbourne office were dismissed following a 2018 investigation into annual “boys’ night out” events, which featured binge drinking and other debauched behaviour.

Along with visiting strip clubs, those attending the “boys’ night out” sessions in the mid-2010s told KPMG of a range of lurid debacles, including one member crawling through his own vomit, while another was picked up in an ambulance.

KPMG Australia fires staff for using expenses to pay strippers

KPMG investigated the behaviour in 2018, having been tipped off about a previous 2015 event. In that case, the invitation was sent to 80 male employees ranging from summer interns through to directors in the firm’s Private Enterprise division. The division provides services to family businesse, private sector businesses and family offices.

After the goings on became public in 2021, KPMG CEO Gary Wingrove told the AFR, “As soon as this was uncovered in 2018, I ensured it was investigated straight away, and took disciplinary actions, including people exiting. We then made a number of key leadership changes, bolstered senior female representation, and took further actions to improve the culture in this team. The conduct was totally unaligned with our values… covertly organised, and in no way sanctioned by KPMG.”

Female staff of the Big Four firm were excluded from the events – which also saw strippers hired allegedly at the expense of the firm. As the firm looks to repair the damage to its identity, as Wingrove mentioned, it has promoted more women into leadership positions to replace the men fired for their misdemeanours.

The breaking of the story also follows more damaging revelations that workplace complaints at KPMG grew between 2014 and March 2019, as Australian workplaces face a reckoning over the widespread mistreatment and harassment of their female employees.

Also as reported by the AFR, allegations of bullying and sexual harassment grew or remained steady over that period, raising questions about how widespread the conduct is, and how the firm is working to address it.