Richard Boele

Professional services giant KPMG has acquired human rights consultancy Banarra in a move that signals the increasing importance of ethical sourcing, supply chain management and social impact.

EY made a similar move last year, acquiring Terence Jeyaretnam’s Net Balance consultancy to boost its climate change and sustainability offering.

KPMG Australia chief executive Gary Wingrove said the decision to acquire Banarra was due to the increasing social risks faced by many businesses.

“Social expectations are clearly on the minds of C-suites and boards,” Mr Wingrove said. “Corporate footprints which are now global, 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. Failure to do so can result in reputational damage and exposure to regulatory, legal and commercial risk.”

Banarra was founded in 2006 by Richard Boele, who is famous for coining the term “blood diamond” in the ’90s.

The company has worked on the human rights impact assessment at Olympic Dam, developing a social impact framework for Westpac, delivering security and human rights assessments for global resources company MMG in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Laos, and working with Sydney Airport on its first sustainability report.

Mr Boele said in a statement to clients that the acquisition by KPMG Australia was a “great strategic fit”, and the company would be rebranded as “KPMG’s Banarra services”.

“This acquisition means we will be growing – without comprising quality – those core services for which you have come to value us,” Mr Boele said.

“These include services in human rights risk, ethical sourcing and supply chain management, management and measurement of social impact, complex stakeholder engagement and strategy and report development.”

Mr Boele said the core Banarra team would not change because of the acquisition – he would join KPMG as an advisory partner, bringing with him a team of 10 specialist consultants.

“You will receive the same level and style of client service and the same innovative advice you have come to expect from us,” he said. “We will continue to constructively challenge and work with you to deliver the change your organisation needs.”

This is KPMG Australia’s eighth acquisition in 18 months, the others including social media risk consultancy SR7, mining services consultancy Momentum Partners, SGA Property Consultancy, and cyber security business First Point Global.