VIDEO: HGGC’s CFO on mental health, DEI and ‘vulnerable leadership’

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, middle-aged white men have to be 'vulnerable and open', HGGC's Lance Taylor tells members of PEI's CFO All Access networking community.

The leaders of private capital firms need to be “vulnerable, open and allow things to happen organically” when it comes to making their firms more inclusive and diverse, according to Lance Taylor, partner and chief financial officer of mid-market private equity firm HGGC.

Taylor was discussing his firm’s journey as part of an interview first featured on our affiliate networking community, CFO All Access. Like many firms, HGGC began a period of introspection after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, sparked a wave of riots and global demonstrations. Floyd’s murder “put a spotlight on what we could do to make a difference”, said Taylor, “we allowed employees to start working on initiatives”.

Human capital and talent management often report up to the CFO, which is the case at HGGC. Taylor, a middle-aged white man, realised that he was not the person to run such initiatives around diversity: “I don’t try to run them, because I know there are blind spots that I have. We have to be careful to listen…

“We have tried to be vulnerable and open, and allow things to happen organically. That’s hard to do as a leader.”

HGGC has established initiatives to reach interns from diverse backgrounds and established a “40 percent rule”, whereby “at least 40 percent of the people we interview [for hires] will be from a diverse background”.

In football parlance, HGGC started on the one-yard line and has now made it to the 10-yard line, said Taylor, but there is still another 90 to go. HGGC was co-founded by Steve Young, who spent 15 years as a professional football player, primarily with the San Francisco 49ers.