Mergers & Acquisitions names the 2021 PE Leaders in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, including Dipanjan (DJ) Deb, founding partner and CEO of Francisco Partners.
“Every day I focus on how we can better serve our four core constituents: our limited partners/investors, our portfolio company executives and teams, the people we transact with (founders, corporates, bankers, etc.), and our internal FP family,” said Dipanjan (DJ) Deb, founding partner and the CEO of Francisco Partners. “Focusing on DEI is integral to our past and future success in serving each of these groups.”
FP is well-known for complicated carveouts of tech divisions. Mergers & Acquisitions recently named FP the 2021 Health & Fitness Deal of the Year Winner for the $345 million acquisition of consumer application MyFitnessPal from footwear maker Under Armour Inc. Back in 2016, FP won our Private Equity Firm of the Year award for the acquisition and restructuring of Dell’s software group.
Deb shared some insights with Mergers & Acquisitions in this Q&A:
What steps you are taking to improve DEI at your firm?
We enthusiastically sponsor a number of DEI initiatives and very much appreciate that we are on a complex and long journey to get to where we need and want to be. We are committed to continuing to challenge ourselves to learn from our folks, adapt real-time, and do more and be better in the future.
We have a Diversity Committee comprised of senior professionals at the firm that is committed to fostering conversation and ultimately action around how we can improve our efforts as a firm to best support our employees.
Our hiring strategy casts a wide net seeking candidates that are different in terms of training (industry and educational background), stage of career, and, certainly, personal background. We need to do this in order to build the best team. As an example, we hosted three diverse MBA summer interns last summer, all of whom did not have prior investing experience. All three have returned full-time as post-MBA associates.
We have more work to do at the senior levels of the organization, but our 1) head of capital markets 2) head of talent 3) head of tax 4) head of corporate development and 5) two senior members of the investor relations and capital formation team are all diverse teammates who add immensely to our firm. Additionally, each year, we are increasing the diversity percentage of our investment team.
FP created a mentorship program that matches new hires with peer and senior mentors to help them navigate onboarding and career development.
Continually, we try to build relationships and host events with affinity groups at all levels (from undergrads to senior executives) to stay connected and current on the latest issues and initiatives. Example organizations we support include the Thirty Percent Coalition, Diligent’s Modern Leadership Initiative, HBS Women in Investing, and UC Berkeley’s Women in Business Group.
Our associate group is currently 47 percent female, up from 33 percent three years ago. Our VP group is currently 33 percent female, up from 9 percent three years ago. Over the last 12 months, 44 percent of our new firmwide hires (excluding administrative professionals) were women, and 59 percent were of diverse backgrounds.
What steps are you taking to improve DEI at your portfolio companies?
DEI at leadership levels, both in terms of portfolio company management and board representation, is a key part of our strategy to drive inflective growth at our portfolio companies. For example, we encourage the Rooney Rule for executive positions at our portfolio companies and filling independent director slots at the board level. In practice, this means taking accountability to ensure we interview at least one woman and one underrepresented minority for every open senior position. Across our portfolio, we track standard diversity metrics and KPIs to ensure not only compliance, but improvement in each portfolio company’s DEI profile under our ownership.