LibraryblogKPMG’s gaming and diversity guru on the need to address the barriers to diversity

KPMG’s gaming and diversity guru on the need to address the barriers to diversity

As well as being Global Head of Sales Enablement for KPMG, Micky Swindale is a respected diversity speaker and advocate. We talked to her about the need to go beyond paying lip service to diversity and inclusion by proactively dismantling the barriers to positive change. 

Header image
Chris Hooper
Director of Content at
June 18, 2023
On this page
Women in the workplace: a case in point
Turning words into action
The need for understanding

Listen to the full episode of Veriff Voices to hear more from Micky on diversity, and the gaming industry.

As the leader of KPMG’s diversity initiative for the gaming and betting sector, Micky Swindale is passionate about diversity and inclusion for everyone.

“That’s why we called it #WeAllWantToPlay, because it’s absolutely aimed at diversity across all underrepresented groups,” she says.

In the UK, KPMG are particularly focused on social mobility, an area Micky considers important given the persistence of class and privilege.

“To take yourself from being a working-class boy in the Northeast like my husband was to high achieving in the corporate sector is pretty hard,” she comments. 

Micky believes that while the business as well as the moral case for diversity and inclusion has been well made, good intentions are yet to be reflected in actual outcomes.

“The truth is it isn’t changing very quickly or dramatically,” she says. “It is talked about and recognized far more, but I still think there are a lot of barriers to change.” 

Women in the workplace: a case in point

While her commitment to diversity is universal, Micky admits she has a strong focus on equality of opportunity for women, partly because as a woman with a highly successful career she has direct experience of the issues. 

“I’ve always been a Micky, and it’s funny that I picked a name which is sort of gender neutral,” she says. “Before you could google people I would often turn up at meetings and people would say ‘well I don’t think Micky Kelly (as it was then) is here yet’. And I’d say, ‘well actually I am’.”

She points out that a lot of data is collected on gender representation, making it possible to reliably report on actual performance across industries and companies.

“So, it’s not a bad place to start, and if you challenge unconscious bias in that area then you start to open people’s minds to their unconscious bias in other areas,” she comments.

Micky feels that attitudes and social norms have definitely improved over the past two decades.

“I just watched the Pamela Anderson documentary about when she went to court about the sex tape that was stolen from them, and she was treated appallingly,” says Micky. “That absolutely would not happen now. So that has changed.” 

However, she points out that although the situation has evolved, issues are far from resolved, citing a recent highly publicized review of the London Metropolitan Police – which found cases of racism, misogyny and homophobia across the organization – as an example.

“One of the problems with the fact that we now talk about this a lot and that some of the behavior we just talked about wouldn’t be tolerated in public is that it can drive that sort of behavior and those conversations underground.”

Turning words into action

“So, I think companies have got to now start thinking about what do I actually do? How do I change my processes? How do I change things, so we actually start to get more people up through the ranks?”

At KPMG, rather than simply imposing quotas, firms across the global network have been asked to say what they think is achievable by 2026, and a target has been set on that basis.

“We’ve added up the figures and we’ve said, right, we will have 33% women in leadership,” explains Micky, “and that means now we’ve said that publicly, we’ll track against it.”

“It really helps women in the organization hearing that and thinking okay, you’ve recognized we don’t have enough women in leadership, and you’ve publicly stated it, and you’ve owned it, and you’ve said you want to change it. And that helps us keep the women we might otherwise lose.”

The need for understanding

Ultimately, Micky is clear about the real driver of change.

“You don’t get great outcomes from procedures and practices – they’re all good things and we should have them in place – but it’s only really when people shift in their heart, see the injustice of inequality of opportunity, and say ‘I want to change this’”. 

“I think it’s really powerful when men who are in positions of power, men who have nothing to gain and everything to lose, talk about it and genuinely care about it.”

Micky Swindale, Global Head of Sales Enablement, KPMG

“I think it’s really powerful when men who are in positions of power, men who have nothing to gain and everything to lose, talk about it and genuinely care about it.”

While passionate about diversity and inclusion, she believes a zero-tolerance approach can ultimately be counterproductive. 

“The thing I really worry about is the fear it can create, because as soon as you start talking about these things you can get it wrong, or be seen to get it wrong, and that’s understandably scary for a lot of people.”

“If people have made that heart shift, then we’ve got to make it okay for them to talk about these things, to use the wrong words, to get things wrong, to not always get the nuance right,” she says. “Ultimately, none of that really matters, it’s your intentions that matter.”

For more from Micky on diversity, the gaming industry and endurance sport, listen to our latest podcast. To read about how Veriff is actively addressing diversity and inclusion by tackling bias in identity verification, check out this recent blog post. 

Veriff Voices

For more from Micky on diversity, and the gaming industry, listen to our latest podcast.

Explore more

Get the latest from Veriff. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Veriff will only use the information you provide to share blog updates.

You can unsubscribe at any time. Read our privacy terms