Gender diversity is improving in PE and VC but work is still needed on ethnicity representation, says new report

There has been some improvement on gender diversity in private equity and venture capital, but considerable progress is required on ethnicity, a new report has found.

The survey report, produced by the British Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (BVCA) and Level 20, builds on the 2018 ‘Women in Private Equity’ report and highlights data from across the industry including, for the first time, on ethnicity. The report also expands on data published by Diversity VC in 2019 in the ‘Diversity in UK Venture Capital’ report.

The data collected on gender indicates the overall proportion of women in the industry has risen to 38 per cent (PE 2018: 29 per cent, VC 2019: 30 per cent) and, encouragingly, 20 per cent of investment team professionals are women (PE 2018: 14 per cent, VC 2019: 20 per cent). To add to this, all male investment teams have declined to 12 per cent (PE 2018: 28 per cent, VC 2019: 37 per cent), in what is a noteworthy shift.
It also reveals a positive trend for female representation in venture capital and private equity, regardless of seniority. The number of women working in investment roles across senior (10 per cent), mid (20 per cent) and junior levels (33 per cent) is improving, in small, mid and mega sized funds (based on Assets Under Management).
On ethnicity, the report marks the first and pivotal step toward capturing this data from across the industry and establishing a baseline on which future progress can be measured.
The number of firms who provided data on ethnicity was lower (73 firms) than of gender. However, even though the sample size is smaller, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve representation in respect of ethnicity across private equity and venture capital.
The intersection of gender and ethnicity in senior positions in firms requires the most attention as less than 1 per cent of Women at this level are Black, less than 1 per cent are Multi-Ethnic/Mixed and only 1.6 per cent are Asian.
Representation at senior levels regardless of gender is also an area that needs serious improvement as only 1 per cent of individuals are Black, with 1 per cent Multi-Ethnic/Mixed and 10 per cent Asian. This under-representation continues across all levels of seniority in the industry while 54 per cent of firms who provided this data have all white investment teams.
While this data on both gender and ethnicity provides the industry with a foundation to work from, both the BVCA and Level 20 firmly believe that further transparency is necessary to drive progress and the conversation must continue to address the findings.
As such, both organisations have committed to encourage firms to provide this data going forward for future progress reports, using the tools published alongside this report, to support openness and improvements on this issue.
The report also contains a set of industry recommendations from the BVCA and Level 20 aimed at supporting further progress, including fostering an organisational culture that promotes diversity of background, experience and thought, and reviewing and enhancing recruitment processes to attract more women and people from different backgrounds.
Gurpreet Manku, Deputy Director General of the BVCA, says: “I am delighted to see progress made on gender inclusivity and the industry needs to focus on continuing to improve on this trend. However, it is obvious that when it comes to ethnicity, further work is needed. The first step firms can take is to collect and review their data with the information in this report.
“It’s imperative that the industry continues to widen access to women and people of all backgrounds, across all levels of seniority. This is not only fair and equal but makes sound business sense too. Increased diversity and inclusion means better decision making and, ultimately, more successful companies.”
Pam Jackson, CEO of Level 20, says: “In Private Equity, 'what gets measured, gets done', so I am delighted that this data and the accompanying template enables firms to compare themselves to our data, to continually monitor progress and to provide consistent diversity data to LP's and investors.
“While the shift forward is encouraging and the number of women working at all levels has increased, there is still much more progress to make. We will continue to support firms to take the most effective actions to progress and retain diverse talent at all levels, particularly women working in senior investment roles.”