Which PE firms have the most female upper-level executives?
March 26, 2015
The number of female executives in private equity (or lack thereof) has long been an issue for the industry, so we figured we’d contribute to the conversation by doing what we do best: providing contextual data. The percentage of female upper-level professionals at PE firms is embarrassingly low in most cases, coming in at under 9% of top roles in the U.S.
For more context, we wanted to see what a closer breakdown of the data shows. Do younger firms have a higher percentage of women in more important positions, perhaps trying to buck the ways of the old guard? Do the larger firms have better balance? Do European firms follow similar trends?
Here is what we found:
Older, more established U.S. firms have a higher percentage of female upper-level executives compared to their younger counterparts, dropping off among those founded in 1990 or later and slowly climbing thereafter. It is worth noting that the older firms tend to have higher AUM, which stands to reason given that a firm that has lasted this long will have proven its worth to LPs committing to PE funds. Leading us to the next graph…
The larger firms are shown to have noticeably more balance in this comparison; for example, investors with over $25 billion in assets have a nearly 60% better gender proportion than those in the $5 billion to $10 billion bucket. Maybe this is due to the fact that big-name players are able to make the best offers to the pool of qualified female candidates and outbid smaller firms. Or maybe scrutiny from LPs, media and the general public is contributing to hiring practices of the well-known names in the PE limelight.
Our European data shows similar trends by firm age, with older proving more balanced—around 13% for firms established before 1980 and roughly 9% for the decades after. The numbers are fairly scattered when comparing European PE firms (non-venture capital) by AUM, with the largest firms actually recording the lowest percentage of female top-level executives in this case (8.1%).