When I first started out as a financial journalist with David Gleason in the early 2000s, I remember walking into a boardroom at a large investment bank and sitting down to a meeting with the all-male team and doing a double-take.
What happens in corporate finance teams across the country is largely reflective of what happens in boardrooms in companies across the country more broadly.
The numbers in the PwC report on Executive directors: Practices and remuneration trends, released in January, revealed that 95% of all Chief Executive Officers on the JSE were male, 87.2% of the Chief Financial Officers were male and 91% of Executive Directors were male. A total of just 19 women held executive positions in listed companies on the JSE, and only 6% of the 329 CEOs are female.
With the research unambiguous on the business and economic value of diverse teams, it’s time to find better answers.
Private equity general partners are going to have to rely increasingly on applying a broad array of skills to unlock value. Gone are the days of gearing the balance sheet and stripping out costs. And this is where diverse teams are going to rise to the top.
And while the rise of women in private equity is starting to take shape, particularly in our local industry, where there are some incredible women now holding very strong and visible roles (see the profiles in this feature), the evidence still suggests that much more intentional strategic work needs to be undertaken to further level the playing fields.
But I have been hugely encouraged by the momentum that is being built in private equity in particular, where I now see a career path for my daughters, aged 5 and 8, where I couldn’t fifteen years ago.
And so, as a female founder whom I greatly admire related to me recently, notwithstanding any progress and gains made, it is incumbent on us, every one of us women and men, to make sure that rising generations of women in the private equity industry are seen, supported, cheered and enabled to reach their full potential, which, in turn, will allow the private equity industry to reach its full potential.