Mergers & Acquisitions names the 2021 PE Leaders in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, including Verdun Perry, global head of Blackstone Strategic Partners at Blackstone.

Raising the profile of private equity career opportunities to traditionally non-target students requires outreach, action that’s no stranger to Verdun Perry. Events across the country featured him as a speaker this year: Sponsors for Education Opportunity, VC Include Fellows Program, and Great Diamond Partners AlphaME high school program to name a few. Perry comes to these events with more than just words: he’s helped expand Blackstone Inc.’s (NYSE: BX) recruitment pool to include historically black colleges and universities, bringing on-campus outreach to 44 schools versus 9 in 2015. And Blackstone’s Future Diverse Leaders Program taps rising juniors to get training and networking exposure to finance professionals.

Perry is a 21-year veteran of Blackstone Strategic Partners and chairs each of the funds’ investment committees. His career includes roles in acquisitions and investment banking at Credit Suisse, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Morgan Stanley.

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

What steps are you taking to improve DEI at your portfolio companies?
In October 2020, we announced two key initiatives:

  1. Board Diversity Commitment to Create Value
    • Firmwide mandate to target at least one-third diverse representation on portfolio company boards for new control investments starting in the U.S. and Europe
    • This initiative is just the beginning and builds on our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion across the firm and our portfolio
    • It is our responsibility to hire and promote the best and brightest to build on our variety of backgrounds
  2. Career Pathways Initiative to Create Value
    • A pilot program designed to create employment opportunities and career mobility at Blackstone’s portfolio companies for people from underserved communities starting in the U.S. and Europe
    • Aimed to foster economic mobility and support ongoing efforts to increase diversity by expanding traditional applicant pools to create more value
    • Blackstone will partner with non-profit organizations who are leaders in job training and talent sourcing within underserved communities such as YearUP and COOP Careers

What measurable results have you and your firm achieved in DEI?
We are focused on widening the funnel of applicants – the more diverse talent we can bring in early, the more opportunities there are for them to grow and become future firm leaders.

In 2016, we launched the Future Diverse Leaders Program which was created to give underrepresented minorities who are rising juniors in college an immersive two-day experience, during which participants take part in seminars, training, networking events and mentorship opportunities to learn more about the firm and a career in finance.

Key stats demonstrate our results and progress:
• 45 percent of Blackstone’s 2020 global analyst class is female, up from less than 20 percent six years ago
• 44 percent of Blackstone’s 2020 U.S. analyst class is racially diverse

Is there anything you’d like to add?
I grew up in inner-city Philadelphia (the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia), and I know, all too well, what is at stake when people are not included, or are left behind. My passion for DEI comes from years of personal experience and has been honed by my academic and professional experiences. I could not be prouder of Blackstone’s support for DEI across the firm and its support for both internal and external diversity initiatives.