Gender split sees new investment industry focus

Australia's private equity and venture capital businesses are committed to increasing the number of women employees following the sector's latest workplace diversity study.

At its 25th annual conference in September, the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCAL) released the report Women in Private Capital - The Case for Change. After surveying 112 firms it found women make up 20% of the total industry and 11% of senior roles.

AVCAL chief executive Yasser El-Ansary said the association endeavours "to build an inclusive and thriving industry where everyone feels confident that they can contribute and progress."

The report lists eight recommendations split across several sub-sectors of the industry. This includes publicly implementing workplace diversity strategies; demanding a gender balance on recruitment shortlists; demonstrating equal opportunities to contribute; putting in place market-leading maternity/paternity leave policies; and discussing diversity with fund managers as part of any due diligence process when making an investment allocation decision.

El-Ansary said the report builds on work AVCAL started in 2015 with the inception of its diversity working group.

"Diversity is a key driver of innovation, essential for growth and consistent returns for investors. The diverse perspectives of a team ensure innovative thinking and well tested, robust ideas," he said.

Citing a McKinsey & Company report from January, AVCAL said companies in the top quartile for gender diversity within executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability.

Separately, AVCAL made two other important announcements at its conference. From early next year the association will be named the Australian Investment Council "to better represent the multiple stakeholders in the industry."

Also, for the first time in its history, the association will appoint an investor as its chair. Moving into the top role will be HESTA general manager, unlisted assets, Andrew Major. He is currently AVCAL's deputy chair and will replace outgoing chair Cameron Blanks.

Read more: AVCALAndrew MajorCameron BlanksHESTAYasser El-Ansary
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