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Women hold just 8% of Senior Investment roles at Private Equity firms globally

For most firms’ women hold just 1 or 2 of the top positions on the buyout investment teams


At the 10 largest firms that use debt to buy companies, women hold just 8% of senior investment roles.

For most firms, women hold only 1 or 2 of the top positions on the buyout investment teams.

It’s worth noting that these teams tend to be 20 members plus.

The Cause

The main issue doesn’t seem to be hiring, it’s retention according to Gerardo Lietz, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School who believes firms should be asking why. With ESG pressures, clients are going to be asking for change in this area within the next 5 years.

The Landscape

Carlyle Group LP were the best of a bad bunch in terms of representation, with 15 women in senior investment roles. This is considerably higher than the average figure of 2.

However, this figure isn’t as encouraging as it first appears. TPG had the largest proportion at 14% with 6 women in senior roles, which makes Carlyle’s 15 suddenly look rather low as it only represents 11.5% of the total staff making investments.

At least these two firms were better than their peers; Apollo Global Management, CVC Capital Partners and Hellman & Friedman, who were each represented by one lone female in senior investment roles.

All in all, there are 39 women in total holding senior investment roles at the 10 largest private equity firms, as a percentage that’s just 8%.

A Private Equity Problem

This appears to be very much a private equity issue, with other kinds of asset managers not facing the same concerns.

It’s worth noting that the problem doesn’t bridge into private equity holistically. Instead women are found more frequently in other roles including; investor relations, marketing and finance.

The Larger Picture

Private equity is a relatively young industry. It was started by men, it attracted men, it hired men.

Sometimes we must look at the culture of an industry. Private equity and finance in general have historically not been industries where women are encouraged to enter. This includes, pressures at home, from friends, even within educational establishment from teachers.

With retention being spotlighted as the main cause, it suggests that the culture and environments need to be altered in order to become more female friendly. Perhaps then more women will not only be encouraged to pursue a senior investment role in private equity but will also be more likely to stay, due to job satisfaction.

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