Gender diversity and inclusion can boost business performance and growth. At Eurazeo, we have firmly believed in this idea for many years, as reflected in our HR strategy. In 2022, France Invest recognized our efforts by naming us as the management company with the most gender-diverse investment teams.
Helping make the world a more inclusive place makes perfect sense for management companies that offer businesses support and guidance as they pursue their growth ambitions. Eurazeo executives and employees have held this view for many years. We are committed to achieving responsible and sustainable growth, including as part of our ambitious ESG program O+. Every day, we get one step closer to our goal.
The private equity industry is becoming more gender diverse, which is fantastic to see. Women currently hold 41% of positions in management companies. This figure has been on the rise for the past 10 years or so.(1) However, women occupy only 21% of the most senior positions (2). At Eurazeo, this figure is much higher at 34% (3). France Invest’s gender diversity charter calls on signatories to ensure that women hold 25% of senior positions in their investment teams by 2030, but we are aiming even higher.
Adopting a proactive yet balanced gender diversity policy is key. To be effective, a policy needs to be endorsed by senior management teams and understood and followed by all employees. It needs to translate into concrete initiatives with measurable indicators to ensure their long-term relevance.
Although greater numbers of women have taken up positions in the private equity industry in recent years, promotion initiatives and a proactive approach are still necessary. For instance, women in the industry sharing their stories could encourage other women to pursue a similar career path. It goes without saying that the role of education and related guidance needs to be explored in greater detail.
What’s more, our industry is struggling to retain female employees at present. At Eurazeo, we strive to foster a stimulating and pleasant work environment for all our employees, particularly women. Furthermore, we provide our employees with training, mentoring and coaching to ensure they are ready to take on new and greater responsibilities, as well as flexible work arrangements.
However, gender diversity can only be achieved if the whole industry is on the same page. Eurazeo has been committed to increasing the percentage of private equity roles occupied by women for many years. For instance, we actively support Level20, a pan-European non-profit organization that aims to improve gender diversity in the private equity industry. We are also a member of France Invest’s Talent and Diversity Commission, which seeks to promote gender diversity and inclusion across the industry. What’s more, Eurazeo is a signatory to the Diversity in Action initiative launched by the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA).
Furthermore, Eurazeo’s portfolio companies put it in a prime position to monitor gender diversity across the economy. Unfortunately, there are too few women in key positions. This is something we are constantly working to change. There is a lack of female start-up founders. According to the barometer produced by SISTA, BCG and CNNum in 2022, 88% of all start-up capital is raised by all-male teams. We therefore decided to underline our commitment to gender diversity by actively supporting SISTA, an organization that encourages investment in women-led start-ups. We are also involved in the #TechYourPlace movement, which promotes diverse recruitment and inclusive management practices in tech start-ups. What’s more, we are currently developing a toolbox based on feedback from our extensive network comprising almost 500 portfolio companies.
Gender diversity is a social issue. I have noticed that many young people are highly committed to the principles of equality and equity. They encourage us, as economic agents and citizens, to ramp up our commitments, which is great.
That being said, I think the best argument in favor of gender diversity is that it drives business performance and growth in more ways than one. First, it boosts talent diversity and availability at the recruitment stage. It gives rise to a broader range of leadership styles, boosts efficiency and increases employee participation and engagement. In an increasingly uncertain and complex world, adaptability and innovation are key to the success of any business strategy. At Eurazeo, we believe that the broad range of perspectives offered by our highly diverse workforce helps us drive innovation, make more balanced management decisions and create value for our company. Embracing diversity brings about meaningful change.
Apart from being social necessities, diversity, equity and inclusion are the building blocks of innovative long-term growth strategies. Private equity firms, through their investments and expertise, can also drive value creation in these areas—and, at Eurazeo, we intend to do just that.