Mergers & Acquisitions names the 2021 PE Leaders in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, including Frank Baker, co-founder and managing partner of Siris Capital Group.
Co-founded by Frank Baker, Siris Capital Group is a private equity firm that invests in mission-critical, mature tech and telecom businesses at strategic crossroads. The firm, with offices in New York and Silicon Valley, has raised nearly $6 billion of cumulative committed capital and targets investment opportunities with transaction values of $500 million to $5 billion. Siris recently teamed with Clearlake-backed Newfold Digital to acquire Yoast, the search engine optimization plugin provider for WordPress.
Prior to forming Siris (the predecessor fund of which was formed in 2006), Baker was a managing director at Ripplewood Holdings. Baker started his career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs & Co. in the mergers and acquisitions group. He holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is a trustee of The University of Chicago, a director of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), a director of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and an advisory board member of All Star Code.
Baker shared some insights with Mergers & Acquisitions in this Q&A:
What are the benefits of DEI to PE?
The benefits of DEI in PE are consistent with the benefits across other industries. We believe the inclusion of diverse perspectives and backgrounds across our firm’s activities will lead to more balanced, informed, productive and creative outcomes. This is perhaps most evident in our investment process, including the benefits of sourcing through more diverse networks, and leveraging a wide array of backgrounds and experiences during due diligence and exit processes.
What steps you are taking to improve DEI at your firm?
While diversity and inclusion have always been core values at Siris, we have recently increased our efforts to institutionalize strategies and goals around DEI, both at the Siris level and at the portfolio company level. We established a DEI Council, adopted a DEI-specific policy and outlined a roadmap for firm level improvement. This includes internal training around unconscious bias and interviewing, building more diverse candidate pipelines, engaging with important DEI partners such as ILPA, NAIC, SEO, RFK and WAVE, and measuring KPIs/progress.
What steps are you taking to improve DEI at your portfolio companies?
We have engaged with senior leadership to help establish and/or enhance each company’s DEI agenda. We have collected baseline metrics, instituted training and held cross-portfolio sessions to communicate and share best practices. We are also setting board level diversity goals and ensuring that DEI is integrated into board meeting agendas. Finally, we will continue to track the DEI KPIs for each company and hold management accountable for progress.
What results have you achieved?
While we, like many, aspire to make continual improvement, we our proud of our progress to date. At our firm, 66 percent of our partners, 48 percent of our investment team and 53 percent of the full team is diverse – either by gender or race/ethnicity. Our incoming associate classes have become increasingly diverse over the more recent years, as well. Based on the processes we have established, we were invited to become founding signatories of ILPA’s Diversity in Action Initiative.
Anything you’d like to add?
At Siris, we wear our focus on DEI on our sleeve and are striving to help lead our industry. We firmly believe that our organization and industry will be much stronger, as we continue to increase diversity and inclusion.