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May 27, 2024
PI Global Investments
Private Equity

Women strive to break private equity glass ceiling

Indian funds may have fared a tad better than their global peers in gender diversity across the PE space, but women have to strive harder to break the glass ceiling in the private equity world.
Consider this from a survey across top 28 private equity funds:
➤Gender diversity at 19.7%.
➤At partner/MD levels, its at 10% for Indian funds and 2% for global ventures.
The survey by Hunt Partners (HP) was conducted exclusively for TOI.
Low gender diversity numbers at partner levels across private equity funds reveal that the male-dominated sector could be bereft of initiatives that help attract and retain women talent at leadership levels.
Sunit Mehra, partner, Hunt Partners, said: “For MNCs, their gender diversity percentage is a reflection of their global ratios. They are dictated by global norms and since the PE industry is largely male-dominated, the same scenario is depicted across PE MNCs operating in India. However, in India, we are far more progressive — our benchmarks are based on the larger financial services sector, in which it is clearly evident that women have a significant role to play across the corporate environment and leadership. The issue, therefore, basically relates to where the organisations get their benchmarks from.”
The study found only 1 partner/MD level employee, out of 44 women working at global PE funds, in investment roles. The fund here is Advent International. On the other hand, there are 6 partner/MD level employees, out of 52 women working at Indian PE funds, in investment roles — one in Everstone, one in TVS, two at Lighthouse and 2 at Multiples.
Forty-three out of the total 44 women working at global PE funds, are employed in non-partner/MD levels, which forms 98% of the total women strength. At Indian funds, 46 out of the total 52 women are employed in nonpartner/MD levels (89%), finds the survey. “One commonly cited reason for the under-representation in both investment banking and PE/VC is the perception that the deal-making world is an ‘alpha’ world, characterised by competitiveness and a traditionally male-dominated culture,” said Ashley Menezes, partner & COO, ChrysCapital & vice chairperson, Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association ( IVCA).
Menezes concurs that this trend is not unique to India but is a global phenomenon. He, however, said there is a growing realization within the industry that this paradigm is not a necessity for successful deal-making.” Experts said PE/VC (alter native investments) as an industry is at a nascent stage considering the activities in this space picked up less than a decade ago. According to IVCA, there are more than 600 women professionals in 320 large and small funds. Of these, 183 are founders and partners representing 147 funds.
Overall, the global PE sector indicates low gender diversity, across both leadership and non-leadership positions. In comparison, the general financial services sector shows women holding 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite roles, and 5% of CEO positions as of 2021, says a report by Deloitte. Menezes said a more pertinent comparable is the investment banking industry, where women have historically faced challenges in achieving equal representation. “It is noteworthy that many professionals in the PE/VC sector often come from an investment banking background, and the underrepresentation of women in the investment banking industry has, in a way, also reflected on the poor diversity levels within the PE/VC industry,” he added.

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