Independently-managed growth capital firm Australian Business Growth Fund
(ABGF) was founded in 2020 by the Commonwealth government, the four major
banks, Macquarie Bank and HSBC. Its purpose is to support the growth of
promising small businesses by applying patient capital to them, through a
The Australian Investment Council (AIC) sat down with CEO Anthony Healy to
find out more about how the team is embedding diversity in the business.
A diversity pedigree
Healy has always been focused on diversity across a stellar career in
financial services. Three decades working across markets including Asia and
the Middle East has informed his approach. In his experience, diversity
leads to better conversations, decision making and outcomes.
Previously, Healy was CEO of the Bank of New Zealand and led National
Australia Bank’s large business banking division. He is a long-term
independent director of not-for-profit Good Shepherd Australia and New
Zealand, which provides crisis services to women and girls, and independent
non-executive director of Bank Australia.
Setting the foundations
From day one, Healy has been focused on creating a genuinely diverse
culture. He has a broad definition of what diversity means and delineates
it from the notion of inclusion.
For AGBF, diversity embraces concepts such as where someone grows up, their
cultural experiences and their professional background. Inclusion is an
applied version of this. It’s about the framework that supports the
business's approach to diversity.
Implementing an approach to diversity that matches AGBF’s values means
being explicit about what its culture represents. This is expressed across
everything the business does, including the way it hires, engages with and
motivates staff, right down to expectations around meetings and
For instance, meetings are only scheduled between 9.00 am and 5.30 pm and
Healy has implemented unplugged weekends, during which staff are encouraged
to turn their attentions to priorities other than work. “I usually don’t
send or respond to emails at weekends, late at night and early in the
morning. It’s important to model behaviours you want others to follow,” he
The inclusive culture extends to the routine of each working day. For
instance, there is flexibility in where and when people work. “We don’t
count the number of hours people work. What matters is how everyone works
together, creates value and moves the firm forward.”
Healy recognises being an emerging business is an advantage when embedding
a robust approach to diversity. "It's an easier task to build a culture at
a start-up with a blank slate, versus inheriting a culture that has been
built up over a century or more."
Walk the talk
As at February 2023, ABGF has 28 team members, 25 are ABGF employees and three are bank secondees, who are fully focused on ABGF. There’s a 50:50 man-woman gender split across the team, including a 50:50 gender balance in the investment team. The business also has a mix of racial-cultural backgrounds, and generations, with 7% Gen Z, 68% Gen Y and 25% who are Gen X.
As this shows, in its short life ABGF has already achieved a strong track
record when it comes to diversity. But Healy acknowledges there’s more to
be done. In particular, he wants to broaden the professional backgrounds
from which his team is drawn.
“We have a highly talented, diverse investment team from a gender and
culture perspective. But most come from a private equity background. We
needed that early on, because we needed access to technical skills. Now,
we’re looking more broadly to hire people who come from a small and
mid-sized business and family business background. This will mean we have
people in our team who are representative of the businesses we invest in.”
Concurrently, Healy’s team also has an eye for diversity in ABGF’s investee
businesses and applies an ESG lens when making an investment. This is
because prioritising diversity has business benefits.
Says Healy: “We want to make sure our portfolio companies take a
responsible approach to environmental, social and governance issues. This
is not so much compliance driven; we are conscious the ESG practices of
large companies would overwhelm small companies. We want to take a
proactive and practical approach. Doing this well will deliver value for
our investees, the community and the Australian economy, which is why ABGF
was set up in the first place.”
Published September 2022