Accounting News Roundup: KPMG Gender Discrimination Lawsuit and A CFO Onboarding Bonus | 05.16.16

KPMG gender discrimination lawsuit

Some time ago, Donna Kassman a former senior manager with KPMG, sued the firm for "relentless gender discrimination and harassment." Last year, more than 1,000 women joined the lawsuit after it was certified as a class action. The latest development in this case is the addition of named plaintiffs — Tina Butler, Cheryl Charity, Heather Inman, Nancy Jones and Carol Murray — which include their accounts of discrimination:

Charity, for example, was informed by her manager that he was surprised she “was still with the firm” because he believed that “single women” did not stay with the same job for long. When she raised the possibility of filing a formal complaint with KPMG’s HR department, a partner told her, “If you go to HR, it will turn on you.” Inman was told by her manager that she could not travel to work on some of the most lucrative accounts because she had young children at home. Even though a male colleague had a small child, she was told it was different because “you’re the mom.”

Cringe. The amended complaint also states that "KPMG promotes fewer women to partner (18 percent) than the industry average of 23 percent" and "fewer women to senior manager (35 percent) positions than the industry average of 44 percent."

A KPMG spokesperson responded, saying that "almost 90 percent of those eligible" have not joined the lawsuit and 86 percent "are not current KPMG employees" supporting the firm's belief is "without merit." The statement also said that the firm "[does] not believe that the addition of these five women changes anything in terms of our view of the lawsuit."

Okay, fine, but the problem for KPMG, I think, is that the addition of the five women and their stories of discrimination will change the view of the lawsuit for the people who read about it. That's not nothing.

CFO compensation

If you like executive compensation news, then you'll be interested to know that Newell Brands (fka Newell Rubbermaid) gave its next CFO, Ralph Nicolleti, a pretty handsome package. His annual salary is $875k, he's eligible for the company's management cash bonus plan (roughly 100% of his salary), $3.3 million in performance-based restricted stock units and, my favorite, "a one-time lump sum bonus of $1,900,000 (the “Onboarding Bonus”), payable within 30 days of the commencement of his employment." (First noticed by Footnoted.)

All that is more than double of his previous compensation package paid to him by his most recent employer Tiffany & Co. of $2.7 million. I want the number of this guy's recruiter.

Previously, on Going Concern…

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