Insights From Inaugural AVCJ Women in Asian Private Equity Forum

11.12.2018

By Shannon Chow, Principal

Private equity is viewed as one of the world’s most male-dominated professions. Worldwide, only around 9% of women are in senior-level positions at private equity firms.1 Today, there are several industry consortiums and organizations that exist solely to support women and combat the lack of diversity in the asset class. Other private markets participants, such as Asian Venture Capital Journal (AVCJ), have helped raise awareness by prioritizing and elevating discussion about gender diversity. Over the last several years, AVCJ has hosted various panel discussions on diversity in private equity at its annual forum in Hong Kong. In light of the growing interest around the topic, this fall AVCJ held its first event specifically focused on female private markets participants in Asia, calling professionals in the region to share experiences, exchange ideas and network with peers.

Hamilton Lane Vice Chairman Juan Delgado-Moreira spoke at the event, sharing insights on the topic of diversity from a senior management perspective. Juan reported that, at Hamilton Lane, diversity and inclusion is ingrained in our culture. Our firm is comprised of about 40% women, and women hold one-third of senior leadership positions, including several spots on our Investment Committee.2 We also have several firm-wide initiatives, including our Diversity & Inclusion Council and the HL Women’s Exchange, which encourage diversity and provide support in career pathing and development. Juan’s fellow panellists also shared their own perspectives on the importance of gender diversity within the private markets. Evidence suggests that diversity helps boost returns and improve portfolio performance. One example noted was that female investment professionals better understand portfolio companies’ consumer products that target women, and that firms may miss opportunities to invest in this space if there is no female representation on the investment team.

Though it’s not unique to Asia, another interesting panel highlighted the gender imbalance that exists in the Asian venture capital industry, citing research showing that only around 2% of venture capital money went to women-led start-ups in 2017. Panellists spoke about the lack of women-led VC firms and funds in the region, as well as the scarcity of VC firms backing female founders. They then encouraged industry participants to create supportive and inclusive environments for female entrepreneurs -- including mentoring networks – with the premise that professional women can benefit from the support of both female and male mentors within the industry. 

The forum also made a point to include the limited partner (LP) perspective on tackling diversity. LPs shared that when they look for a suitable fund manager, they consider qualities such as strong investment performance track record, strategy and execution, which should come as no surprise. However, investors are increasingly including gender diversity as part of the conversation, and in some examples, as an official part of their due diligence process. This is an encouraging trend to see and a good example of the small but important improvements taking hold within our industry.

Overall, it was a good event and encouraging to see more and more firms within the industry making incremental but positive strides in support of gender diversity.


1 Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2018-03-08/-private-equity-has-an-incentive-to-prioritize-women

2 As of September 30, 2018


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