Diversity in Private Equity

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How has the industry moved to match the changing diversity landscape.

Last week we held the eighth Junior Women in Private Equity Event. We launched our Junior Women in Private Equity Event in 2014 to combat the issue of gender diversity within the private equity industry. Research supports that gender diverse teams are more likely to outperform those with little to no diversity.  Nevertheless, in 2013 female Associate hiring was at a mere 10%. Fuelled by the creation of initiatives such as Level20, which was founded in 2015, the community push and drive to attain gender balance from the private equity firms themselves is starting to bear fruit. In 2020 the proportion of women being hired at the Associate level has improved markedly, rising to 40% over the past seven years – a sign that with a collective push, progressive leaps can be made.

Seismic shifts

Whilst this has been a positive evolution, if businesses are going to create a workforce that mirrors society/ the population and foster environments/ cultures where there is diversity of thought, then they will have to look beyond solely gender to achieve this.  As we know diversity spans many categories, the global pandemic shone a light on social inequalities within our society, we also witnessed seismic developments, like the Black Lives Matter movement, as a result of the death of George Floyd and ‘#100Blackinterns’.  This may have taken place in the US, but the racial injustice resonated in the UK and Europe. Whether it’s gender, ethnic, or socioeconomic, as a company it’s not enough to be seen ticking the boxes anymore, people expect to see diversity truly embedded within a firm.

The debates that came from MeToo and more recently, Everyone’s Invited, highlighted the intersectionality of many of these diversity issues, as well as those faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Hiring diverse talent is part of the solution, retention is equally as important which is why inclusion has become an important topic for our client base.  The question all employers should be asking themselves is “once we’ve hired people from these various backgrounds, how should we ensure they feel welcome and help them to thrive within their careers?”

How can we further drive diversity within the industry?

Data analysed from our 2021 Gen Z Hiring and Retention report, a sample of 1524 graduates due to start jobs in banking, consulting, or investing in 2021, demonstrates that between 35-40% of graduates consider themselves ‘BAME’, 5% overall categorise themselves as black, with 35.1% being female and 2.6% identifying as a third gender/non-binary or preferred not to answer. Across the three industries, 55% of all those starting jobs are white and 62% were male.

Analysis by Level20 and the BVCA found that over 80% of people working in PE are white, 11% Asian and 3% Black. These statistics are unsurprising and unfortunately, they become worse at the senior level where only 1% of individuals in senior positions are Black.

Building from the ground up and beginning with junior talent is the most efficient way of increasing gender diversity within private equity.  Many firms are taking opportunities to engage with junior talent before they enter the working world.  Our own Junior Women in Private Equity Event being one such avenue, but the 100 Black Interns initiative is another excellent example of firms looking outside their normal remit to offer work experience to black students.

First, look at the children

Dartmouth’s approach to junior engagement is threefold. The Dartmouth Academy engages with schools to offer high quality career insights and skills to students from all backgrounds, providing an alternate source of support for those without a middle-class professional parent to guide them. We facilitate meaningful, high-quality engagement between companies and their future talent by running work experience with a professional standard assessment process. We provide students who have engaged with Dartmouth and our clients a pathway to stay in touch from Year 10, through to their professional career. Our platform can be utilised by individuals, single firms, and collective industry groups looking to make an impact.

At Dartmouth, diversity is a core value, and our goal is to support the drive to improve diversity within the private equity industry. If you’d like to discuss how you can get involved with our diversity initiatives such as Junior Women in Private Equity or our Workshops in partnership with Level20, or The Dartmouth Academy, please get in touch today.

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