Setting out to hire a diversified team of young professionals is one thing. Actually achieving it poses a complex challenge.
“People are willing to take less money to work in a less intense environment,” said Riverside’s Miller, and “for that reason we see talent drifting to other sectors.” He added: “It’s more challenging than it has ever been to recruit young talent.”
At Chicago-based technology specialist ParkerGale, four of 11 investment professionals are female, “which is pretty damn good percentage-wise if you look at the industry norm,” said Kristina Heinze
(pictured, above). Heinze is one of four founding partners at the firm. She is also one of Mergers & Acquisitions' Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A
. According to data provider Preqin
, less than 10 percent of senior investment roles in private-equity shops are occupied by women.
"Diverse resumes” don’t just come flowing into the firm unbidden, Heinze said. With the help of two recruiters based in New York, ParkerGale earlier this year e-mailed invitations to 1,800 post-MBA candidates—1,500 men, 300 women--to apply for an open principal position. Of the roughly 100 that responded, about 90 candidates were male, and only about 10 female. Is it because, as some posit, women don’t apply for jobs until they feel 150 percent qualified and men will apply if they feel at least 50 percent qualified? Heinze doesn’t have the answer.
In the end, ParkerGale hired Kara Master
, whom Heinze had met when she was an MBA student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
and with whom she had kept in touch in the half a dozen years since. “If you want to get diversity, you have to be pro-active,” said Heinze, whose firm this May hosted a dinner and panel discussion for about 50 pre-MBA women working in consulting and investment banking. “Based on our experience, it doesn’t [just] come to you.”
Indeed, just about every private equity firm you talk to these days seems intent on becoming attractive to diverse candidates—whether it’s by hiring a chief diversity officer and loosening its dress code (KKR); giving employees flexible hours to spend more time with children (Riverside); offering up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and 16 weeks off altogether (ParkerGale); hosting weekly wine-and-cheese gatherings in the summer (Kinzie Capital
); or providing on-site professional development and training (Riverside and ParkerGale).
For those that want outside help, organizations devoted to drawing women, minorities and veterans into corporate finance are everywhere hosting events. They include Elite Meet
, Girls Who Invest, Exponent Women, Private Equity Women Investor Network, Toigo Foundation
and Women’s Association of Venture and Equity.