Women In Alternative Investments: ‘Leveraging Diverse Perspectives’

Women in Alternative Investments: ‘Leveraging Diverse Perspectives’

“With change happening at an unprecedented pace, it is fitting that alternative investment firms are strategically focused on leveraging diverse perspectives in these disruptive times,” says KPMG Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie, “The Call to Act,” a new paper that looks at the roles of women in the alternative investment industry.    

This year’s report draws on a broader survey than did its precursors (going back to 2011). The new survey had 886 respondents, men and women within the industry, both management and investment. KPMG makes use of a broad definition of “alternatives,” so that respondents come from hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, and real estate.

The co-authors of the report, Camille Asaro and Kelly Rau, say that a call to change is coming from investors, and that managers are stepping up. They quote Eileen Murray, a co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, who says, “The percentage of women in senior positions has increased from 0.5% when I started working to now 15-17%.” Murray says she isn’t sure whether these numbers should make her “do the happy dance or cry.”

A Gender Gap

The numbers from the survey indicate that both man and women see diversity as important, although men are more likely than women to believe that their own firm, or their sector, is at present doing what needs to be done to advance that goal. Nearly two thirds of the men asked (65%) believe that their management team sees diversity as an important part of business strategy. Among women, that number drops to 50%.

Looking at the negative side of what one may consider the same question, 48% of the women respondents say that their firm is “not doing enough to recruit, retain, or advance women.” Only 30% of men said the same thing.

Asaro and Rau suggest an explanation for the difference, “[M]en may be more willing to assume that because a diversity commitment is made or a policy is in place, it must be helping.” Women, on the other hand, question when a firm’s “stated commitment” is window dressing.

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