Mergers & Acquisitions names the 2021 PE Leaders in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, including Jonathan Simon, global head of leadership development and diversity at Apollo Global Management.

In a climate in which collecting standardized metrics for DEI goals eludes most investors, one figure stands out: 30 percent. That’s the quantifiable, collectible, comparable digit representing the proportion of women and minorities on the board of Apollo Global Management Inc.’s (NYSE: APO) portfolio companies. And here’s a second figure, this time adding a human element to the firm’s value commitment: 100. This year, the firm took its place among 767 employers with a perfect score on the Human Rights’ Council’s index of best places to work for LGBTQ equality.

Jonathan Simon is at the helm of the firm’s talent development efforts as it racks up such accolades. Joining last year from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Simon’s career in investment banking spans over 12 years. Apollo is currently the steward of $455 billion in assets, the majority of which is roughly evenly sourced from public pensions, insurance companies, and sovereign wealth funds. Recent deal activity includes reports that Apollo is mulling a $8.6 billion joint bid for the United Kingdom’s fourth largest grocer Morrison’s alongside Fortress Investment Group.

Simon shared some insights with Mergers & Acquisitions in this Q&A:

What steps you are taking to improve DEI at your firm?
We are in build mode, creating systems that support, retain and develop diverse talent. We are rethinking not only the culture of the firm but also modernizing our HC function to develop a diverse and inclusive workforce and rethinking our recruiting strategy. We are also focused on manager effectiveness, giving our leaders the tools they need to drive organizational change and nurture our talent.
As we seek to champion DEI, we continue to expand our employee affinity group network to further cultivate a sense of community. The Apollo Affinity Family includes MOSAIC (Multi-ethnic Organization Supporting Apollo’s Individuals and Communities), Apollo Pride, Apollo Women Empower (AWE), Apollo Family Network, and the Apollo Veterans Affinity Network.

What steps are you taking to improve DEI at your portfolio companies?
In 2020 we achieved 30 percent representation of women and minorities on their boards of our portfolio companies. In 2021, we are focused on helping them build their own DEI strategies, using Apollo as a center of excellence. We are developing a scorecard for how they measure themselves on DEI. Additionally, through our newly launched Portfolio Company portal we have been able to share many helpful resources, such as our DEI primer, so we are all speaking the same language and sharing best practices on a real-time basis. We also host monthly calls with DEI champions across the portfolio.

What results have you achieved?
Apollo launched a number of firmwide initiatives to shape our culture this past year. In June 2021 we launched an initiative that epitomizes our DEI ambitions: AltFinance. Apollo aligned with Ares Capital and Oaktree Capital to create AltFinance, a fellowship in partnership with nonprofit organizations and academic institutions, to create clear pathways for students at HBCUs into alternatives firms and portfolio companies. In conjunction, Apollo launched HBCUNet, a new educational and recruiting platform powered by CareerBuilder that aims to connect students and alumni from HBCUs with career opportunities at Apollo and across its private equity funds’ portfolio companies.