Why do you think there aren’t currently more women in the industry?
Thankfully there has been some improvement in female representation over the last 20 years, but there is still a long way to go. I attended a small-cap equities conference in Perth in the year 2000 which was attended by brokers, fund managers and analysts. I was the only female in attendance. Up until very recently I simply accepted that very few women entered the finance sector, and in particular private equity. I do not accept this position anymore and I feel very strongly that action is needed to create the necessary changes. We are seeing green shoots in our industry and this is largely the result of better awareness and recognition of the challenge. I can see across the industry a lot of support for the work that our industry body, AVCAL, is doing to help bring about change. At the heart of it, I believe young women coming into this industry are simply not aware of what private equity as a career path has to offer. Unlike investment banking, management consulting and accounting, private equity in the past hasn’t really recruited at the graduate level which has probably been a disadvantage in terms of building greater awareness and understanding of our industry - thankfully, that's starting to change now.
There are many positive changes underway to address the issue of the gender imbalance in our industry. AVCAL is playing a leading role in building out greater awareness, and ensuring that private equity fund managers are armed with the right tools to help them bring about change - the recently launched Diversity Handbook is a prime example of how we can help at a very practical level. Another simple and effective change is the increasing open dialogue about this topic occurring at various industry events like conferences and networking functions. Also, an informal, Male Champions of Change group is emerging within our industry, which I think is important and necessary to ensuring that diversity is elevated to a first-order priority. Men occupy most of the senior positions in our industry, so it makes absolute sense that we make them accountable for change.
"At the heart of it, I believe young women coming into this industry are simply not aware of what private equity as a career path has to offer."