Nearly 50 buyout firms and investors have signed a global initiative that aims to improve diversity and inclusion among their ranks, a U.S. private equity investor association said on Monday.
The move comes as Wall Street tries to shake off its male- and white-dominated image. Only about a fifth of the employees in the alternative asset management industry are women, a Preqin survey found in February.
About 46 private equity firms and investors, including Blackstone Group Inc, KKR & Co Inc, France-based Ardian, Canada's CPP Investments and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, are founding signatories to the initiative launched by the Institutional Limited Partners Association. The Washington, D.C.-based ILPA represents many large public and private pension funds, endowments, family offices and foundations.
Many companies have launched diversity initiatives this year following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who died while in police custody on May 25. Floyd's death sparked protests in the United States and beyond.
Under the ILPA initiative, participating private equity firms and investors are required to adopt a public diversity and inclusion statement or strategy, track internal statistics on hiring and promotion by gender and diversity, specify organizational goals to attain more inclusive recruitment and retention, and provide data to investors making new commitments during fundraising.
The initiative also calls for providing unconscious bias training for employees, tracking gender and race statistics among portfolio companies, and assigning a senior manager to be accountable for diversity and inclusion.
"Beyond work from home, 2020 was a catalytic year which sparked a different kind of conversation that brought a lot of issues to fore around culture, which is essentially diversity and inclusion," said Jennifer Choi, ILPA's managing director for industry affairs.
ILPA said it expects to welcome more signatories from private equity firms and institutional investors. It will begin publishing a quarterly analysis of actions taken by signatories on diversity and inclusion next year.