Mergers & Acquisitions names the 2021 PE Leaders in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, including Melissa Mounce, managing director of leadership talent and diversity at GTCR.

Founded in 1980, Chicago’s GTCR focuses on investing in growth companies in the financial services, healthcare, technology, media, telecommunications and business services industries. With $11 billion AUM, GTCR’s approach, known as The Leaders Strategy, involves finding and partnering with management leaders in core domains to identify, acquire and build market-leading companies through transformational acquisitions and organic growth. Melissa Mounce joined the firm in 2019 as a managing director of leadership talent and diversity. In this role, she oversees the identification and recruitment of CEOs and management teams. Mounce shared some insights with Mergers & Acquisitions in this Q&A:

What steps you are taking to improve DEI at your firm?
Demonstrating the firm’s commitment to D&I, I was appointed head of diversity and inclusion to lead and take accountability for our actions and progress. We have focused on several areas to improve diversity and inclusion at the firm level:
• I present quarterly at our Investment Committee on our progress toward our diversity goals as well as, DEI trends and best practices.
• Continuous evaluation of our recruiting processes to reach broader pools and debias the processes.
• Added an analyst role as a feeder pool to our associate level and an opportunity to recruit straight out of undergrad programs.
• Undertake and promote efforts that help make the firm a more inclusive workplace environment through leadership development, training and transparent internal communications on our diversity efforts.
• GTCR is a platinum sponsor of the WAVE Career Forum Conference for the second year in a row. This has been a great forum for us to educate and promote careers in private equity to female students and engage our female investment professionals in sharing their experiences.
• I, along with two other female PE professionals, created the Private Equity Network of Operating Women (PE NOW) to network, collaborate and focus on relevant topics important to female PE leaders.

What steps are you taking to improve DEI at your portfolio companies?
GTCR has a strong focus on improving DEI practices among portfolio companies. As part of this effort, the firm is working closely with portfolio companies to seek and retain diverse candidates for senior leadership roles at portfolio companies:
• Hold third-party search partners accountable to present diverse slates of candidates for our executive and C-suite roles.
• Identify high-potential female executives within our portfolio companies to serve as directors within our portfolio company boards.
• I hold quarterly roundtables with our portfolio company CHROs and DEI is one of the top 3 initiatives of focus for 2021

Anything you’d like to add?
I have been conducting best-practice benchmarking calls with my counterparts at other PE firms. These collaborative and transparent conversations have provided an opportunity to capture best practices and lessons learned to continue to elevate DEI in our industry and respective firms. I’ve held the same conversations with firms we admire outside of our industry who have achieved a lot of success in their DEI efforts. I aspire to build on this knowledge and success to accelerate our DEI initiatives. I’ve found such a collective willingness to share and advance diversity not just as a social issue but a fundamental business objective.