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HOW TO PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY IN PRIVATE EQUITY

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Whilst 2020 continues to be a rollercoaster year, at Altus we are continuing to focus on our Empower for Change series. This includes a series of events (now online), addressing gender parity, BAME talent and mental health. We may all be riding the corona-coaster daily, but that doesn't mean these industry challenges have disappeared. 

Our first event addressed gender parity. You can read more about the panel and key takeaways from the event here. It's important that as well as talking about these challenges, we also determine ways to measure change. How else can we see progress? As such we surveyed our attendees to answer the question, how far have we come, what matters, and what should we be doing?

Hiring strategies 

There's been much debate about effective hiring strategies. Many believed that blind hiring and hiring quotas would provide the shift needed to bring a gender balance into the workforce. But was this enough? 

From a choice of 19, we asked our attendees to choose the 5 most effective hiring strategies. The top four selected were:

  • diverse hiring panels. (65% 

  • examples of women who have succeeded in an organisation (56%)

  • applicant pools beyond traditional sources (56%)

  • development and mentoring initiatives in schools, colleges, and universities (50%)

Employees also recognised the organisational ripple effect of diversity and inclusion. 41% thought that if there was training around D&I and its effects thereof, it would be an important hiring strategy. Interestingly, blind hiring (20%), hiring quotas (14%) are no longer considered to be leading strategies for effective hiring, and even balanced shortlists (36%) and bias training (38%) just fall outside the top 5. 

Takeaway:

It appears that our participants want examples and action rather than a hiring process modification. Employees recognise that companies must evolve with these effective strategies to recruit and, more importantly, retain talent. 

The current situation

While 56% of respondents confirmed their business has a gender-parity strategy in place, which is a progressive step, this is counter measured by the extent of what businesses are doing to provide an effective strategy. 

According to the Women in the Workplace 2019  study by McKinsey, there are over 7 initiatives listed that help address the issue. However, we found that 65% found their businesses ran less than 5 initiatives or none at all. 

Takeaway:

To effect real change, initiatives can no longer be tokens or used for commercial purposes, it must be genuine. Employees recognise it is not enough just to tick a box and paying lip-service will affect recruitment and retention rates. 

One of the initiatives, highlighted by the panel, which could be introduced is gender-neutral policies. This was supported by a huge 82% of employees that said they would like their company to adopt this strategy.

Making inclusion part of your strategy 

Strategy is the mind of a company, and the individuals working are the engine room. But culture and values are the heart of the business and provide identity. 

Inclusion is becoming a significant part of the culture and the degree of that has a commercial impact in the form of retention. 95% of respondents have placed cultural workplace inclusivity is important in their decision to remain at their current company. Measurement of culture is the examples and initiatives set in place, if businesses do not extend their gender parity policies then this will filter into a workplace culture that does not value inclusivity, which will result in resignations and ultimately affect the bottom line. 

Takeaway:

Inclusivity is a relatively new concept within hiring and its integration into policies has been varied. Only 11% of those surveyed have a detailed plan on inclusive hiring. It's clear that many businesses have not prioritised gender parity strategies, but without one, we cannot expect change. 

It's positive to see that 85% believe their career has not been held back by the lack of policies. This demonstrates incredible resilience and strength to break through barriers. It is this testimony that allows increasing sponsorship in the workplace and better mentoring to navigate challenges ahead. 

Despite this, just under 30% felt discriminated in the workplace over the past 3 years. This may be a number that continues to decrease, it is important that businesses aim for 0%. No person should ever attend their workplace and feel discriminated against, irrespective of their differences.

So what needs to change for it to work? Here are the top 5 suggestions from our event and survey:

  • Action plans rather than postponing them or delaying their introduction into the wider business.

  • Better recruitment and retention through gender-neutral policies that have substance (not just ticking boxes). 

  • Role models and examples are essential to influence and demonstrate gender parity

  • Training staff about diversity and inclusion, and tangible impacts and effects that can happen in the wider business

  • Put in place cognitive diversity. Many perspectives stemming from the cultural differences between people will result in creative problem solving and innovation. 

We hope these findings influence individuals and companies to take action. At Altus Partners, we welcome partnership with businesses that seek to empower change and be progressive. We can help provide hiring structures that implement effective recruitment strategies.

If you are interested in discussing options, please contact us at info@altus-partners.com