Change not fast enough for women in private equity

Despite efforts by private equity firms to tackle gender diversity, a recent survey of 289 private equity professionals (conducted by Investec and MJ Hudson) has revealed that women do not think that the industry is pushing hard enough with efforts to improve gender diversity, with almost half (48 per cent) stating that there has been little or no change.

Respondents did acknowledge, however, that more work is being done by employers to bridge the gap – 61 per cent of women said they agreed when asked whether their firm considers diversity and equal opportunities to be important. 
 
When asked to compare their career satisfaction with 12 months ago, 29 per cent of women said they were less satisfied, compared to only 12 per cent of men. When asked what they planned to do if they were to leave their current firm, women expected to stay in the industry in only 30 per cent of cases, compared to more than 50 per cent of men.
 
Deborah Sayagh, banker to private equity professionals at Investec Private Bank, says: “The lack of female representation in private equity cannot be disputed, but the industry is moving in the right direction. Take, for example, initiatives such as Blackstone Group’s Future Women Leaders Programme which has had a positive impact in doubling the number of female applicants for its analytics division.”
 
“However, the journey does not stop there; the real challenge is to ensure that these women stay in private equity and build successful careers. Our research clearly indicates that not only is there a lot more work to be done to reach gender parity, but that there also needs to be greater emphasis on the rate of change.”
 
These findings come at a time when LPs are increasingly expecting GPs to show how they have improved diversity in the workplace.
 
Jennifer Choi, Managing Director for Industry Affairs, ILPA (Institutional Limited Partners Association), says: “Interest in gender equality is not driven by the desire to see hard quotas set and met: LPs want to understand to what extent the stated corporate values are reflected in reality and they are keen to see how GPs are working to improve inclusion, rather than just diversity. They (LPs) appreciate the value in a diverse decision-making base.”