The glass ceiling has been a big talking point in the investing world in recent years. Although some improvements have occurred during the past few years, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure women are equally represented in private equity. The current situation doesn’t look very good.
Bloomberg’s Latest Report
Bloomberg’s Madeline McMahon and Devin Banerjee published a report that shows some worrying statistics. According to the data, only 10.9% of the senior managers in the ten biggest private equity firms are female. Although the levels have risen, the gain is relatively moderate. In 2012, the percentage stood at 8.1.
During this time, private equity’s importance in the US has grown. For example, the asset levels are up by 68% from the levels in 2008 and the industry currently employs one out of 25 US workers through the companies the firms own.
Best Performing Companies
From the ten biggest firms, some have been able to make bigger gains in regards of female representation than others. Blackstone Group is currently the firm with the most female executives at the top level, with 15.7% of the managing director level or higher positions being filled by women. On the other end of the spectrum you have Warburg Pincus. Only two of the 70 of the firm’s senior level partners are women.
Bloomberg noted that out of the top ten companies, TPG Capital is the only firm that doesn’t provide a list of its executives and the firm has also refused to say how many women hold senior positions.
Women Are Not Attracted to the Industry
Bloomberg interviewed Joan Solotar, Blackstone’s head of external relations and strategy, over the topic and Solotar said the biggest problem for firms is the lack of women interested in the industry. “Out of roughly 1,000 applicants applying to the associate position, only about 100 were women. How are you going to get to 30 percent if only 10 percent of applicants are women?” Solotar asked. Firms need to address the attractiveness questions quickly if they want to make sure women’s role in the industry would grow.
Asia Leads In Terms of Female Representation
Preqin’s latest look at women in private equity found that Asian firms continue to hold the top spot. The region’s firms had women representing 14.5% of the high-level managerial roles. But the growth in all regions hasn’t been very fast. The change from 2014 to 2015 in North America, Europe and Asia averaged just at 2.7%.
The worrying sign is also the fact that smaller private equity firms tend to have worse female representation to bigger firms. In recent years, these bigger firms have also been able to increase the amount of women in high-level positions much more than small firms. The good news is that many firms are looking into ways of changing the situation. As the industry is more aware of the problem, it is much more likely the number of women in high-level positions will also continue to increase.
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