Women in investment sectors face persistent workplace hurdles

Women in investment sectors face persistent workplace hurdles

Gender diversity efforts reveal mixed outcomes in finance sectors.

Despite ongoing efforts to promote gender diversity in the private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) sectors, 40% of women continue to face significant workplace challenges.

Roshini Bakshi, Managing Director for Private Equity and Head of Impact at Everstone Capital Asia, the primary barriers for women stem from the prevailing corporate culture within PE/VC firms. 

She highlighted a pervasive "boys' club" mentality and a significant pay gap as the chief obstacles. Furthermore, the industry's demands, including an expectation for daily office attendance and frequent travel, often clash with the personal life stages of many women, despite the rise of remote communication technologies like Zoom.

Daniel Oehling, Partner at Boston Consulting Group, pointed out recent initiatives that have shown promise in improving the situation for female professionals in the industry. Structured programs focusing on anti-discrimination policies and support for female leaders have started to yield improvements in workability and satisfaction among female employees. 

However, he noted that real progress often results from more nuanced changes, such as increased workplace flexibility and a more approachable leadership style that includes on-the-go coaching.

Both Bakshi and Oehling emphasised the critical shortage of senior women mentors in the industry, a gap that significantly affects the professional development of younger women. This lack of female representation at the top levels not only perpetuates the cycle of gender disparity but also hinders the creation of a more inclusive culture within the PE/VC sectors.

Efforts to promote women into senior leadership roles are underway, with some firms beginning to recognize the value of diverse leadership by appointing women to head departments like finance and investor relations. 

Oehling advocated for structured talent management focused on nurturing female talent from both within the firm and the broader industry ecosystem. Identifying and promoting female talent in portfolio companies and similar industries can help address the leadership gap. This approach, he argued, is essential for the industry's future, and he hopes more firms will adopt successful strategies to foster female leadership.

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