Highlights from the BVCA Summit 2023
Private capital has two primary ingredients: investment and hands-on experience. People are vital to fund managers and investee companies. This is true from the smallest start-up investment to the largest buyout.
Key themes at the Summit therefore included fostering talent, wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Talent and Wellbeing
There were a range of discussions on ensuring that teams have the specialist skills to develop and grow businesses. Discussions turned to the increasing focus on wellbeing in the industry and the support networks available to achieve this.
Some practical examples included wellness programmes that helped CEOs access peer group support from within the portfolio. There was emphasis on health and fitness, and several firms highlighted the provision of access to an executive coach.
Member firms observed this more holistic and sustainable outlook filtering across company cultures. As one speaker said, gone are the days that we recognise leaders who squeeze as much work as possible from their employees. We seek leadership that provides resilient and sustainable company cultures and structures.
In ongoing efforts to increase the range of diversity in the industry, a panel on the topic was moderated by Level 20 CEO Gurpreet Manku, who revealed that a recent survey of women in the industry showed that respondents wish to see greater transparency around career progression, and more focus on maternity and paternity leave policies, as practical initiatives that firms can undertake to retain more women.
There was significant emphasis on being inclusive and creative when it comes to sourcing talent, as a way of fostering diversity of thought. One effective way to introduce diversity is from the ground-up – that is to say, at intern level, when the difference between the experiences of people of similar talent levels but diverse backgrounds will be smaller (although perhaps still significant). An industry-led initiative called ‘10,000 interns’ is helping to drive this.
The programme provides paid internships for Black students and graduates, including for disabled students and graduates of all ethnicities across a range of UK industries. The programme is designed to connect talented people to life-changing opportunities. Over 700 organisations pledged internships in the 2022/23 programme. Interns undertake a 6 week+ internship, supported by a mentor which kickstarts the careers of these talented individuals.
There was a call to increase the level of sophistication when it comes to diversity, and to think of it, not merely as what is visible outwardly, but also invisible and personal differences, from background to neuro-diversity.
The industry recognised the need for more effort and focus on both diversity, equity and inclusion, and the building of resilient organisations where health and wellbeing is supported across the private capital industry.
Speakers drew the industry’s attention to three recent reports to support their efforts around people and talent.
These include Level 20’s recent Accelerate Report, referenced above; the second is the Investment Diversity Guidelines, developed by the venture community to encourage more women and diversity in entrepreneurship; and the third is the British Business Bank’s Finding What Works Report, designed to facilitate openness and knowledge-sharing around the issue.
Further insights from the BVCA Summit