Percentage of female Partners at private equity firms and hedge funds remains unchanged in the last year

The percentage of female partners of private equity firms and hedge funds and other financial services partnerships has stuck at just 14 per cent for the third year in a row, says employment and partnership law specialists Fox & Partners.

The number of women partners was 1,356 in 2019, down slightly from 1,369 in 2018, compared to 8,051 male partners.

The figures suggest PE firms and hedge funds are still lagging behind broader industry trends with women now holding 32 per cent of boardroom positions at FTSE 100 companies.
 
Fox & Partners says that the low numbers of women in senior leadership roles in PE firms and hedge funds may be partly due to firms in the financial services industry coming under less scrutiny as compared to publicly listed businesses.
 
Catriona Watt, Partner at Fox & Partners, says: “PE firms and hedge funds have traditionally had a lower profile than other financial services businesses.”
 
“Very few have a large base of retail customers so that feeling of pressure to change has been absent. However, that is changing as more institutional investors take ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) seriously and start asking question about the diversity of the managers they work with.”
 
Investment consultants, that advise pension funds and endowments on which fund managers to invest with, are helping to accelerate that process by looking at the gender mix and overall diversity of those fund managers. It is long recognised that diversity in the workplace is a good thing; different backgrounds and cultures help to generate new ways of thinking and therefore investing, and tackling issues and challenges. 
 
Some investors are now specifically asking that female fund managers be added to the “slate” of fund managers that investment consultants review.
 
Watt adds: “Once hedge funds and PE funds realise that it helps in attracting investment then we will see faster change.”
 
“At the moment diversity does seem low. That is partly because there isn’t yet that critical mass of women working at more junior levels within PE and hedge funds that would make partnership for more women an imperative.”
 
“It may also be that the smaller population of individuals working in hedge funds and PE funds means they don’t always have the size of HR departments needed to set up programmes to attract more women into the industry and to retain them.”