Women account for just one in 10 senior investment-level roles in the private equity industry in Europe, according to the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and Level 20’s Diversity and Inclusion Survey 2021. While this figure is very low, it has improved over time. In 2018, women held 6 percent of senior investment roles.
Non-profit Level 20 was set up in 2015 with the purpose of improving gender diversity in private equity. It was founded by 12 women working in senior roles in the industry, including Pantheon partner Helen Steers.
Steers has more than 30 years of private markets experience and is a long-time champion of diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to co-founding Level 20, she sponsored Pantheon’s signature on the UK Women in Finance Charter and its participation in the #100BlackInterns initiative.
In July, Steers was named one of affiliate title Private Equity International’s Women of Influence in Private Markets. The inaugural Women of Influence list features 60 trailblazing women working across alternative assets, including 10 within private equity.
At Pantheon, Steers mentors colleague Ana Zarruk, a principal and member of the firm’s US investment team with a focus on Latin America. In this video, PEI sat down with Steers and Zarruk to learn more about their mentoring relationship and to get their take on how to improve gender diversity in private markets.
One such step to aid progress is mentoring, Steers said. “Become a mentor, particularly if you are a senior man in the industry. You will learn a lot about the journey people are on and the ways in which you can help the industry improve and develop.”
She added that mentoring is also a useful tool for the next generation of talent looking to forge a career in private markets.
“Make sure you have the right training, keep adding to your knowledge and keep adding to your experience,” said Steers when giving her tips for young women embarking on a career in the industry.
“Find a mentor and find a sponsor within your own firm as well, once you’ve joined the private equity industry. Then invest in yourself – keep growing and keep developing.”