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Diversity & 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. As the first detailed report of its kind to address this challenge, and as a new request to the industry for this information, our sample size is smaller than for gender. While it provides us with a foundation to work from, we firmly believe that further transparency is necessary to drive progress and we will encourage firms to provide this data going forward to support openness and improvements on this issue.

The BVCA and Level 20 intend to re-run this study in 2022/23 so we can continue to monitor how representation within private equity and venture capital is evolving.

“I am a huge advocate for diversity of thought within venture capital firms, founders and their teams in order to avoid ‘group think’ in investment decisions and to provide a strong culture of inclusion within both VCs and our portfolio companies. Gender and ethnic diversity are important measures towards delivering diversity of thought – alongside measures such as diversity of background and experience. This report highlights progress in some areas, but also shows there is a need for further improvement. Continuing to capture and monitor this data is essential.”

Kerry Baldwin, BVCA Chair 2021/2022, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, IQ Capital

Diversity & Inclusion Study 2021: Key findings

Our 2021 study found some improvement on gender diversity in private equity and venture capital but considerable progress is required on ethnicity. The report builds on the 2018 ‘Women in Private Equity’ report and highlights data from across the industry including, for the first time, on ethnicity. The report also expands on data published by Diversity VC in 2019 in the ‘Diversity in UK Venture Capital’ report.

Read the 2021 report

Gender data

The data collected on gender indicates the overall proportion of women in the industry has risen to 38% (PE 2018:29%, VC 2019: 30%) and, encouragingly, 20% of investment team professionals are women (PE 2018: 14%, VC 2019: 20%). To add to this, all male investment teams have declined to 12% (PE 2018: 28%, VC 2019: 37%), in what is a noteworthy shift.

It also reveals a positive trend for female representation in venture capital and private equity, regardless of seniority. The number of women working in investment roles across senior (10%), mid (20%) and junior levels (33%) is improving, in small, mid and mega sized funds (based on Assets Under Management).

Ethnicity data

On ethnicity, the report marks the first and pivotal step toward capturing this data from across the industry and establishing a baseline on which future progress can be measured.

The number of firms who provided data on ethnicity was lower (73 firms) than of gender. However, even though the sample size is smaller, more needs to be done to improve representation in respect of ethnicity across private equity and venture capital.

The intersection of gender and ethnicity in senior positions in firms requires the most attention as less than 1% of Women at this level are Black, less than 1% are Multi-Ethnic/Mixed and only 1.6% are Asian.

Representation at senior levels regardless of gender is also an area that needs serious improvement as only 1% of individuals are Black, with 1% Multi-Ethnic/Mixed and 11% Asian. This under-representation continues across all levels of seniority in the industry while 54% of firms who provided this data have all white investment teams.

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, and reviewing and enhancing recruitment processes to attract more women and people from different backgrounds.

Read our latest reports and resources

Further information


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