Frustrations continue for women in private equity as 0 per cent report the desire to start their own firm

No women in private equity report that they see starting their own firm as part of their future ambitions, according to Investec’s 10th edition of their global GP Trends Report.

Down from just 2.3 per cent of women who claimed they would like to start their own firm in 2018, 0 per cent of female respondents for the 2019 survey said that if they left their current firm, they would start their own. This is compared to nearly 15 per cent of male general partners.

 
More women suggested that if they left their current roles, they would start their own business outside of private equity (14.7 per cent; compared to 11 per cent of men), or would move within the finance industry (20.6 per cent; compared to just 3.2 per cent of men). Women are also marginally more likely to move to a different sector if they were to leave their firm, with 8.2 per cent saying this is what they would do, compared to 6.9 per cent of men.
 
The gender pay gap could be part of the reason for this desire to move.
 
Three in five women believe that they would be paid more for doing the same job if they were male. This sentiment is highest amongst women below partner level at 78.9 per cent, although 40 per cent of women at partner level or equivalent also believe they are paid less than their male colleagues.
 
Lack of gender parity in pay could also be one of the reasons 21 per cent of women claim to be more dissatisfied with their work in private equity compared to men, at just 8.2 per cent.
 
It is important to note that for many in private equity, there is no significant change in career satisfaction, with 47 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women saying there was no change for them compared to last year. Moreover, whilst the number of women who are dissatisfied is down from nearly 30 per cent in 2018, the number of satisfied women is also down from 42.2 per cent to just 32.7 per cent. Male satisfaction is also down at 42.9 per cent compared to nearly half in 2018.
 
The figures reflect lingering frustrations that women feel within the private equity sector, despite overall improvements seen in attitudes towards diversity and equal opportunities.
 
Over two thirds of women (67.6 per cent)  report that they believe that their firm considers diversity to be an important issue - and nearly one in five (18.9 per cent) strongly agree that equal opportunities are being prioritised by their businesses.
 
This is a 10 per cent increase in positive sentiment compared to 2018.
 
It is also supported by men within the space - 89.8 per cent of male respondents either agree or strongly agree that firms are trying harder to bridge the gender gap at work.
 
However, almost 20 per cent of women still do not believe that their firms consider diversity and equal opportunities to be key in building a successful business with longevity.
 
Emily Cvijan, Investec Private Bank, says: “We all know it takes time to redress imbalances, which can be a challenge for such an established industry, but it is incredibly telling that the general partners considering going it alone are exclusively male. In previous years, we’ve seen some women consider starting their own firm, but this number has fallen and is somewhat disheartening. There are certainly signs of change emerging – for example, organisations like Level 20 driving positive change in this area, and tenures such as Cheryl Potter’s with the BVCA not only demonstrating the progress being made, but also providing women with much needed and very visible role models. However, our research shows there’s still extensive work to be done to ensure this goes even further. A key area to address remains transparency around the gender pay gap. This is something that’s absolutely essential if we’re going to keep more women in the sector. We need to ensure that more women feel that a successful career in private equity is accessible to them, and that they can build their own firm is they wish.”