We were delighted to sponsor the latest instalment of the BVCA's DEI Series celebrating International Women's Day

The latest event in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Series marked the worldwide celebration of International Women’s Day. The BVCA promotes the participation of people from all socio-economic backgrounds and of all ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations in the venture capital and private equity industry. 

"Empowering women in private equity isn't just about equality; it's about unlocking untapped potential, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth."

Women in UK 

The 2023 BVCA and Level 20 Diversity & Inclusion report has revealed striking disparities in the private equity and venture capital sector. Currently, 38% of junior professionals in this industry are women. This figure drops as seniority increases, with 24% of mid-level positions being filled by women, and a mere 12% sitting at the senior level.

Furthermore, only 3% of senior investment roles are held by women from ethnically diverse backgrounds, with no representation at all for black women.

BVCA DEI Series:
International Women's Day

An integral part of the BVCA’s mission is to promote inclusion within our industry and support firms to build inclusive environments in which everyone can thrive. 

This panel focused on bringing together inspirational female leaders from across different industries to share their remarkable stories of achievement. 

Key takeaways on improving gender equality within the industry 

  • Provide mentors
Increasing the representation of women in private equity requires a multifaceted approach. Mentorship programs can play a pivotal role in nurturing aspiring female professionals. Establishing formal mentorship networks where experienced women in the field guide and support younger counterparts can provide valuable insights, career advice, and opportunities for skill development. Through mentorship, women can gain access to networks, resources, and knowledge that are essential for advancement in the private equity industry.

  • Hire women at all levels
To ensure a more balanced representation of women in private equity, it's crucial to have female professionals at all levels of the organisation. This involves not only recruiting more women but also actively promoting them to leadership positions. By fostering an environment where women are encouraged to take on leadership roles and where their contributions are valued and recognised, firms can create a more inclusive culture that attracts and retains top female talent.

  • Offer flexible working
Another important aspect of increasing women's representation in private equity is to offer more part-time and flexible work options. Many women face challenges balancing work and family responsibilities, and rigid work schedules can deter them from pursuing careers in private equity. By offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or reduced hours, firms can accommodate the diverse needs of their workforce and create a more inclusive environment where women can thrive professionally while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

  • Address bias
Addressing unconscious biases through training and awareness programs is essential in creating a more equitable workplace where women are evaluated based on their skills, qualifications, and potential rather than gender stereotypes. Additionally, improving inclusion requires embracing a wide spectrum of approaches, listening styles, assimilation methods, and ways of thinking. Diversity encompasses more than just gender; it encompasses various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. By fostering an environment that welcomes diversity in these aspects, firms can tap into a wealth of creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills.

Meet the panel

Isobel Clarke

Isobel is Director of Policy at the BVCA, with Sarah Adams. They lead the Policy team and their work across tax, legal, regulatory, accounting and sustainability matters, working closely with members and the BVCA committees to progress key technical and strategic policy issues.

Isobel has over 13 years experience of working on government policy, mainly at HM Treasury but also at the Ministry of Justice. She has led policy work on business rates, tax devolution and the scrutiny of tax reliefs. She was, with Sarah, deputy director for business tax strategy and then deputy director for open justice and dispute resolution.

Seema Kennedy OBE

Seema Kennedy was a Government Minister under Theresa May’s Premiership, serving as Immigration Minister and Public Health Minister. Before that, she was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister between 2017 and 2019, responsible for relations between MPs and Downing Street during the Brexit negotiations. Prior to her election to Parliament, she worked as a lawyer in the City with involvement on projects including the Emirates Stadium and St Bart’s Hospital before becoming Director of a commercial property business in the North West of England.

Since leaving frontline politics Seema has combined an executive role running a legal advocacy group with non-executive positions at the water regulator OFWAT where she chairs the People Committee, and as the Chair of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network. She also sits on the Nominations Committee of St Albans Cathedral and is acting Chair of a family art foundation. Seema is a graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge and the Sorbonne.

Salma Shah

Salma Shah is an award-winning author and the Founder of the game-changing Mastering Your Power a certified coach training programme. She is passionate about raising the bar in inclusion, equity, belonging and social mobility.

Her book, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in Coaching,  explores the mindset and driving forces behind powerful inclusive leadership. High levels of empathy and emotional intelligence lead to high performance with a focus on psychological safety, integrity and innovation. An impressive list of teams and corporations that have sought Salma’s expertise including Co-op Group, John Lewis Partnership, Pearson, Skipton Building Society, Barclays, Infor, British Transport Police, Ernst and Young (Kuwait), Oracle and Reuters. Her approach is an invitation to dig deeper into what it really means to be inclusive and create equitable and diverse organisations.

At PER, we are committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within private markets by ensuring that the shortlists we provide allow you to mitigate unconscious bias and discover diverse talent.