Diversity in Private Equity

About private equity

Private equity is a fast-moving industry, where investment judgements are constantly being made with sizeable amounts of funds at stake, and investments in companies that meaningfully impact all of our lives.

An important area of focus for funds across the industry is ensuring that the investment teams within the industry reflect the diverse range of backgrounds in the portfolio companies we invest in and of the consumers that we serve as an industry. Academic research clearly demonstrates that diverse investment teams lead to better investment outcomes and better considered investment decisions: they think through more aspects of a transaction and uncover perspectives, attractions and risks that others may have missed. In the post investment process, having diverse teams leading operations are a critical part of the toolkit to accelerate operational growth – they can think through more ideas and have a broader range of perspectives. The success of the output in private equity is very much linked to creativity and broad business thought, and diversity enhances that. Limited Partners are clear – this is an imperative for private equity funds, and the broader ecosystem to get right.

Leading diversity and inclusion initiatives in the industry

Rohan Arora, Oxford University alumnus

Rohan Arora, Private Equity Investment Professional

An area of particular passion of mine, has been leading diversity and inclusion initiatives in the industry – the social and business case for doing so is clear, and as we continue to work as private equity professionals to invest in, partner with and accelerate the growth of our portfolio companies, diverse teams are fundamental to do so. Diversity is not only about the business case, but also about ensuring that those from diverse backgrounds are given conditions where they can thrive and develop, and feel supported – this level of social capital helps generate loyal employees for firms, long-term. This goes beyond numerical targets but also fundamental cultural changes, and being willing and open to hire people from beyond the initial well-known backgrounds, and provide them with the tools and training to succeed, alongside mentors that they are inspired by.

Below, I comment on a handful of particular initiatives and schemes, amongst others, that are focusing on tackling this important area, and how Oxford alumni can get involved. Volunteering as well as being intrinsically rewarding, can be a great way to make friendships and inspire the next generation:

  • SEO: Sponsors for Educational Opportunity is a top global non-profit institution that helps top under-represented professionals thrive in competitive careers, whilst starting out its careers work in the investment banking space, the program has expanded into alternative investments in both the USA and the UK – Oxford alumni can get involved in volunteering both to mentor those involved, delivering speeches and talks about their experiences and how to succeed, exploring corporate sponsorship for SEO events and initiatives, and getting involved on a strategic Board level.
  • Diversity Venture Capital is a top non-profit partnership that promotes diversity in Venture and Growth focused capital investing. The program started out in the U.K., and then expanded to the USA, and now offers a range of initiatives including an internship for top diverse candidates to grow in the industry, events and roundtables, research, databases of useful resources and a new standard that funds can be certified against and sign up to which certifies their work towards being best in class in diversity and inclusion practices – Oxford alumni can get involved in volunteering with offering internships, speaking on panel events, contributing to the database, getting involved with the standard, and getting involved on a strategic Board level.