Men-only GPs will find themselves out of step with the industry, say LPs

Investors discussed the steps they could take to encourage gender diversity within GPs at PEI Media’s Women in Private Markets Networking Day.

Brunel Pension Partnership’s chair Denise Le Gal said LPs can reconsider investment relationships with GPs that fail to meet gender diversity expectations.

Speaking at PEI Media’s Women in Private Markets Networking Day on Thursday, representatives from Brunel Pension Partnership, Sunsuper, Allstate Investments and Connection Capital discussed the steps LPs could take to promote gender diversity in private equity.

Le Gal said: “We can nag. We can state our expectations, and if they don’t meet our expectations, we can make decisions about whether it’s still worth investing with these people further down the line. If their mindset is stuck like that, it’ll catch up with their business decision-making, because they won’t be where the rest of the world is.”

Speaking about working in a previous role, Le Gal described an instance in which she raised concerns when considering investing in a company she “loved”, but they only had men on the board. “They were doing some really good ESG stuff, so we still invested,” she continued.

Sarah Farrell, European and Asian private equity head at US insurer Allstate Investments, which has $91.2 billion in assets under management, said: “Certain elements of diversity, and not just gender diversity, are underrepresented at the GP level in our industry. As LPs, we have a crucial role in trying to drive change.”

“We recently rolled out surveys to our GPs and most of them had a majority or all white men. But we flagged that with them and let them know that this is not on,” said Maria Guo, an investment manager at the A$66.3 billion ($51.2 billion; €42 billion) Australian pension Sunsuper.

Lorna Robertson, head of funds at Connection Capital, a firm that provides HNWIs with access to private funds, said she recently declined to invest with an “interesting fund which I really liked” because its supervisory board was comprised of 16 white men and only one woman.