Why KPMG Australia just bought into a human rights business

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe watches aboriginal dancers during a tour of the Rio Tinto West Angelas iron ore mine in 2014. Alan Porritt – Pool/Getty Images

Accounting group KPMG has just bought human rights and social impact business Banarra so it can better advise its top-end-of-town customers on corporate citizenship issues.

“Social expectations are clearly on the minds of C-suites and boards,” says KPMG Australia CEO Gary Wingrove.

Banarra’s capabilities include human rights risk, ethical sourcing and supply chain management, social impact management and measurement, complex stakeholder engagement, and strategy and report development.

Banarra is increasingly active in the resources, energy, finance, property and infrastructure sectors, with recent clients including Sydney Airport and Westpac.

“The rise of social media and the need to re-examine an organisation’s purpose are requiring our clients to better understand their human rights and social impacts,” says Wingrove.

“Failure to do so can result in reputational damage and exposure to regulatory, legal and commercial risk.”

He says the acquisition closely aligns with KPMG’s internal corporate citizenship work.

Recent work by Banarra include: a human rights impact assessment at Olympic Dam, Australia’s largest underground mine, for BHP Billiton and Olympic Dam Corporation; developing a social impact framework for Westpac; and working with Sydney Airport on its first sustainability report.

Banarra, founded by Richard Boele in 2006, is a full service advisory business with clients in 10 countries.

Boele joins KPMG as an advisory partner and brings with him a team of 10 consultants.

The purchase price for Banarra has not been revealed.

Today’s announcement is the eighth acquisition by KPMG Australia in 18 months, including social media risk consultancy SR7.

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