• Women also made up 14% of partners last year, 13% in 2013
  • Just 16% of directors are women – lower than FTSE100


Just 14% (1,361 of 9,485) partners at hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial services partnerships are women*, says Fox & Partners*, the employment and partnership law specialists.


The numbers suggest that no progress has been made in terms of increasing gender diversity at senior levels in financial services partnerships. Women also made up 14% of all partners last year (1,381 of 9,957) and 13% five years ago (see graph below).


HM Treasury launched the ‘Women in Finance Charter’ in 2016, signatories to which committed to build a ‘more balanced’ industry. However, the lack of progress being made on gender diversity indicates there is still a long way to go.


Gender diversity at the more junior ‘Director’ level is only slightly better – with women making up 16% of directors at PE firms and hedge funds.


Diversity at a senior level at PE firms and hedge funds seems to lag behind broader industry trends with women now making up 27.5% of directors at FTSE250 companies.


Catriona Watt, Partner at Fox & Partners, says:


Whilst listed companies are in the spotlight PE firms and hedge funds often deliberately take a low profile, to an extent that has meant their performance in terms of diversity in leadership has not come under much scrutiny. However, that may change. Diversity is increasingly important to investors and something funds will need to be aware of.


Many would-be investors are now interested in Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) aspects of potential funds they invest in – a male-dominated firm may deter them.”


If GPs*** asks PE funds to improve diversity then we may see much quicker change. The reality is that with the availability of increased data on business performance and diversity in leadership, hedge funds and PE firms may soon realise that they are missing out on huge talent by recruiting from a relatively small pool.


Fox & Partners adds that some firms are ramping up efforts to improve gender balance. The likes of Man Group and Baupost have introduced schemes to attract more women to junior positions, which should help boost female representation at senior levels in the long term.


There are also specialist employment law firms, including Fox & Partners, who offer training programmes for employers on how to improve diversity and equality. These programmes help firms introduce initiatives such as mentoring and sponsorship programmes that can improve diversity at all levels.


Just 14% of partners at financial services partnerships are women – showing little improvement on recent years

*As at December 31 2018. Source: FCA

**Hampton-Alexander Review

***General Partners. Some institutional investors into PE funds, such as pension funds, are now paying more attention to the gender diversity of the fund managers that they use