As Lunar New Year was ushered in last week, over two and a half thousand people from six different locations around the world gathered from London Stock Exchange Group and KPMG to celebrate not just the heritage of many East and South East Asian employees, but also the growth and importance of Asian diversity within both organisations.
In a world that is more connected and globalised than ever, David Shalders (LSEG Ex-Co sponsor) mentioned the importance of not just 'celebrating where people live and work’, but also the beauty of ‘reflecting our customer base’. Fellow executive committee member Catherine Johnson took care to mention how 56% of their customer is in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as how Asians in leadership roles had increased from 3% to double digits.
Across a three hour event hosted by the LSEG Asian Affinity Network alongside the KPMG China Club and KPMG SouthAsian Network for the first time, the heritage and meaning of Lunar New Year was explored for both all in attendance, with audience members asking questions that connected the Chinese traditions with other traditions and holidays from other cultures around the world.
A selection of events was provided for employees and attendees, from a selection of Asian and DEI speakers from both organisations, selection of Chinese food, a Chinese calligrapher, who wrote characters bringing luck and good fortune for people to take home, and a Chinese dance performance provided by talented dancers from the UK China Performing Arts. They shared four dances inspired by different elements of Chinese culture and history. Immersion and appreciation was the name of the game, with some employees even invited to join in with the dance leader Joanna in a dance based around the five elements: water, earth, fire, wood and iron.
Particularly illuminating was the main panel that featured a selection of LSEG and KPMG employees that saw a cross-section of Asian diversity and experience discuss the importance of how ones diverse background is an asset that every person can bring to the table, as well as how this impacts upcoming generations of talent going into finance.
One attendee affirmed this, saying that even at the application stage she felt like she could be herself when going through the process, and that her background would not hold back her potential to land the job. Nikhil Manek, the Head of Anti-Financial Crime and Risk for ESG at KPMG was but one of the leaders that spoke of the power of such inclusivity and community, saying “having a diverse team means you’re more likely to have a successful team.”
The Chinese New Year celebration was but one of a series of celebrations hosted throughout the year by LSEG, such as for Diwali. Sabina Liu, Head of Equities Secondary Markets Sales, APAC, reiterated the spirit of the afternoon when she spoke of the joys of giving people the space to be themselves, as well as using ones' own unique life journey when working in a global company.
“You understand both cultures very well and be that bridge between the East and the West,” she said. “You can be that go-to.”