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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The private equity and venture capital industry in the UK has struggled with diversity for many years. The BVCA, alongside Level 20 and many other organisations, is looking to address this issue, and to make the industry accessible to a wider range of recruits from different backgrounds.

Level 20, a non-profit organisation, was created to drive gender diversity in private equity; and its core objective is to increase the number of women working in senior roles in the industry to 20%. The BVCA supports this aim alongside its broader mission to promote the participation of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and of all ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations in the sector.

Data collection and transparency

The BVCA, in collaboration with Level 20 started gathering data on female representation within the private equity and venture capital industry in 2018, focusing on Women in Private Equity. In 2019 we undertook a similar study looking at Women in Limited Partners.

In 2020/21 we conducted a study looking at women in investment firms, to see whether there had been any improvement since the 2018 survey. We also collected data on the ethnicity of individuals working in private equity firms for the first time.

Our latest report, published in May 2023, repeats the 2020/21 study, once again looking at the representation of women and people of different ethnicities working in private equity and venture capital firms. In a further refinement to our methodology, we are now able to compare a UK office gender data set to the latest Level 20 European data. This shows the UK is performing well in comparison to other countries, with further room for progress.

Overall, the findings highlight improvements in the proportion of women in senior, mid and junior-level roles, recognising that progress was likely to be slow at senior investment levels due to the apprenticeship nature of a career in the industry.

We hope this report, which includes recommendations backed by focus group discussions, will support the continued drive in the industry to deliver more transparency and action on this important area.

The BVCA and Level 20 intend to re-run this study in 2024/5 so we can continue to monitor how representation within private equity and venture capital is evolving.

“Private equity and venture capital is all about people and ideas. We need to tap into and retain the best and widest pools of talent to ensure we continue to be successful – which includes people from all backgrounds. This report is essential in measuring our progress and showing ways in which we can and need to do more to attract the investors of the future.”

Garry Wilson, BVCA Chair 2023/2024, and Managing Partner, Endless LLP

Diversity & Inclusion in Limited Partner Investment Teams 2024: Key findings

Our newly published report reveals significant room for improvement in diversity and inclusion within LP investment teams. Highlighting the need for action, the report outlines several key recommendations, endorsed by participating firms, to improve D&I across the sector:

  • Data & Transparency: LPs should regularly collect and analyse D&I data to provide an accurate picture of the diversity landscape while also committing to initiatives such as IiWC or the Women in Finance Charter.
  • Recruitment & Outreach: Firms should start recruitment processes earlier and cast a wider net to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.
  • Retention & Inclusion: Career development of all genders and backgrounds should be supported through mentoring, fair allocation of resources, and flexible working conditions.
  • Culture & Leadership: Senior leadership must promote and embed a culture of diversity and inclusion through proactive actions and organisational policies.

These recommendations are backed by research findings which show:
  • Gender: 28% of LP investment professionals at the mid-senior level are female, decreasing to 21% at the senior level, while 33% at the junior level are female.
  • Ethnicity: Around 20% of LP investment professionals across all seniority levels identify as being from Asian, Black, African, Caribbean, Mixed/Multiple, or Other Ethnicities.
Read the 2024 report

Diversity & Inclusion Study 2023: Key findings

  • We found that notable progress has been made in increasing the proportion of women in the junior and mid-level cohort, although progress at the senior levels has been slower.
  • 12% of senior investment roles in the UK are held by women, while 3% of senior investment roles are held by women from ethnically diverse backgrounds demonstrating there is more work to do.
  • Across both investment and non-investment roles, women now hold 20% of senior roles in UK offices.
  • Significant step up in the number of firms sharing data on gender (45%) and ethnicity (73%) demonstrating an increased commitment to transparency.
Read the 2023 report

Companion resources

Gender data
The proportion of senior level roles held by women in UK firms, working specifically in investment teams, is 11% (including European offices). When UK offices alone are considered, this figure rises slightly to 12%.

At the lower level, the number of women in mid-level and junior-level investment roles across UK and European offices grew this year, by 3% (to 23%) and 4% (to 37%) respectively.

Smaller firms in the UK, predominantly in VC, have a higher proportion of women in mid and senior roles in investment teams, however they also have a higher percentage of all-male investment teams. This is due, in part, to the small number of employees in these firms and relatively static workforces. As the pool of female talent at all levels grow, it’s expected that a domino effect will see more women being made partner, who will in turn act as role models, helping to grow recruitment even further.

Ethnicity data
Across the PE and VC sectors, 26% of firms who reported data are made up of an exclusively white workforce.

The number of firms providing ethnicity data has grown dramatically this year, up by 73%, which shows a greater willingness to act on and improve diversity. This has meant that the BVCA is more accurately able to measure the ethnic makeup of PE and VC workforces, although our ethnicity sample is by no means the whole industry.

Encouraging transparency
While this data on both gender and ethnicity provides the industry with a foundation to work from, both the BVCA and Level 20 firmly believe that further transparency is necessary to drive progress and the conversation must continue to address the findings.

As such, both organisations have committed to encourage firms to provide this data going forward for future progress reports, using the tools published alongside this report, to support openness and improvements on this issue.

The report also contains a set of industry recommendations from the BVCA and Level 20 aimed at supporting further progress, including fostering an organisational culture that promotes diversity of background, experience and thought, focusing on fairness of progression pathways and reviewing and enhancing recruitment processes to attract more women and people from different backgrounds.

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Further information


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