Increasing the ranks of female executives in finance will require a range of solutions, said panelists at last week’s Most Influential Women Meet event. “It’s obvious what you have to do,” says Women’s Association of Venture and Equity board member and Alti Financial chief investment officer Sheryl Schwartz. “It comes down to economics. If GPs can raise more funds and get more carry without increasing diversity, they’ll do it. But if they can raise more and get more upside by having a diverse team, they will do it.”
The talent to build female-led funds with outperforming track records isn’t the issue—numerous studies point to outsized returns accruing to more diverse teams, and the pipeline of female business school graduates is deep. The limiting factor might instead be the dearth of women in senior roles with an opportunity to build such records. Here, female executives can look to spin out of established vehicles to start funds of their own, said one panelist. Mentorship for junior women on that trajectory is equally key to help more women progress, that panelist said.
“It’s mostly women who will drive this,” said GTCR CFO Anna May Trala. “It’s going back to being advocates for and mentoring these women and we have to make sure these opportunities are equally available.”
Firms are also changing policies that have forced women out of senior roles. Adaptable family leave policies and hiring practices that see beyond an upcoming maternity leave could be components of a more welcoming working environment.
In a year that will see Wharton welcome its first majority female class, some of the panelists were optimistic on the industry’s prospects. “You have to walk the walk,” Trala said.