Women in Alternatives

The NAIC takes an “In, Up and Beyond” approach it its Women in Alternatives Initiative. This effort is designed to increase the number of diverse women entering the private equity & hedge fund sectors of finance, advance through the firm leadership structure, and, ultimately, equip them to successfully launch their own firms.

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Current Landscape

In 2019, women made up 19.7% of all employees in alternatives, and increase from 18.8% in 2017. Across the alternative asset classes, women are most represented in Venture Capital – 21%. The ongoing challenge we have seen is that women face difficult barriers to advancement within the industry. Across all asset classes, as seniority increases, women representation consistently decreases.

Female Employees in Alternatives – 2017 vs. 2019
Female Employees in Alternatives as a Proportion of Total Employees by Seniority and Asset Class
VC Deals (#) by CEO Gender in 2019*

*As of August 31, 2019

Industry Guidelines

Women make up just 10 percent of senior employee ranks in private equity, according to William Alden’s report, Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling in Private Equity. They generally face one of two career challenges: breaking into the industry; and when in the industry, identifying how to effectively navigate their way to the senior level positions. In light of this, a working committee developed guidelines private equity firms should consider:

  • Proactively seek to recruit women at all levels and in all roles throughout the firm.
  • Demonstrate a commitment from the top of the organization the goal advancing opportunities for women and having women in senior positions across all roles of the firm.
  • Foster a culture that encourages and supports the success of women.
  • Establish specific goals and/or initiatives to increase retention.
  • Implement policies that assure the professional development and success of all employees and employ metrics to measure success.
  • Establish an infrastructure (i.e., formalized processes fostering human capital) that supports the development of all employees with regard to promotion, compensation, and career opportunities.

Best Practices

The Women in Alternatives Initiative includes the convening of a Working Committee comprised of eleven senior women from AIC and NAIC firms, including members of PE WIN and representatives from SEO Alternative Investments and the Robert Toigo Foundation. Together, these industry leaders created the Initiative’s Guidelines and Best Practices, a framework for promoting recruitment and retention of women.

Working Committee Members

  • Nina Boone, Korn Ferry
  • Daphne Dufresne, GenNx360 Capital Partners
  • Kathlika Fontes, Grain Management
  • Renae Griffin, GCM Grosvenor
  • Jeri Harman, Avante Capital Partners
  • Shana Johnson, GCM Grosvenor
  • Maura Reilly Kennedy, Neuberger Berman
  • Joann Price, Fairview Capital Partners
  • Ivelisse Simon, Avante
  • Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, TPG Global
  • Carmen Rojas, GenNx360 Capital Partners
  • Nia White, Astra Capital Management

Industry Partners

2017 Launch Event

To address the lack of women in alternative investing, the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC) and the American Investment Council (AIC) jointly presented the Women in Private Equity Initiative Forum and hosted by KPMG LLP in New York City. Held on February 1st, approximately 100 investment professionals attended to discuss how hiring practices, trade associations and industry professionals can bring about solutions to reduce this disparity.

Lynne Doughtie, Chair and CEO of KPMG LLP, delivered opening remarks and discussed KPMG’s commitment to the advancement, development and empowerment of women in the marketplace. KPMG recently released the fifth “Women in Alternative Investments Report” that uncovered, among other things, 10 percent of investor respondents now have specific mandates for women-owned/-managed funds, a significant improvement since its 2013 survey in which only 2 percent of investor respondents had women-owned/-managed mandates.

Afterwards, Kelly Williams, Chair and CEO of the Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN), moderated a discussion between Mike Sommers, President & CEO of the AIC, and Robert Greene, President & CEO of the NAIC, regarding the Private Equity Women’s Initiative Best Practices and Guidelines issued in 2016. Sue Townsen, National Managing Partner, Diversity and Inclusion, KPMG LLP, stressed the importance of diversity and spoke of solutions to implement throughout the hiring processes at all levels as well as the unconscious bias that exists in the marketplace.

Alisa Wood, Partner, KKR and Steering Committee Member for PEWIN moderated a solutions-oriented conversation that highlighted resources for women in the industry. Each of those organizations align with the mission and purpose of the initiative. Among those resources are: PEWIN, http://pewin.org/; Girls Who Invest, http://www.girlswhoinvest.org/; and the Thirty Percent Coalition, https://www.30percentcoalition.org/.