The proportion of women employees at private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) firms operating in India grew from 15% in 2018 to 23% in 2021, according to a report by WinPE-BCG.
Progress at the senior levels, however, has been slow with women comprising less than 15% of Partners and Investment Committee (IC) members, who are the key decision-makers, the report titled 'Women in Private Equity and Venture Capital', said.
The increase in the number of women at entry levels has been across both investing and operating teams.
“Even when we had, say, 20 odd percent (growth) at the entry level, we have not been able to translate that into women at the senior levels”, says Nupur Garg, Founder WinPE, a firm launched in February 2020 with the vision to enhance the participation of women in the investing and entrepreneurship ecosystems.
However, Garg said that this is the first time firms have collated such data on gender representation in this sphere in India. “We have information on what women value. We could say that we have a lot more information than we did before and that is progress,” she said.
WinPE, along with US-based Boston Consulting Group, fielded two surveys to understand the diversification efforts progressing across Asia, including India, between October to December, 2021.
The first survey received feedback from 36 PE and VC firms, 29 of which are based in India with 7 in Southeast Asia. In the second survey, 81 women took part, of which 64 were from India.
"Yes, there is a self-selection bias here and there are a lot of firms that have zero women. But the firms here made the effort to bring out the data. That is a strong beginning and this increased appreciation for gender diversity is a great thing to have come out of this report," Garg added.
The report says that “little to no progress” has been made in women’s representation at the top. The report notes that women’s attrition is very low at this level, but women still make up less than 15% of partners and less than 10% of Investment Committee (IC) roles, which are key decision-making roles within PE/VC firms,” as per the report.
Moreover, the majority of firms have no women in management roles. Approximately 50% of firms surveyed have no women at principal roles, and over 60% have no women at Partner level or on the IC, the report further said.
According to Kanchan Samtani, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG India, the pool of senior women available with investing background is not that deep. "So, the firms need to enhance the funnel to build on this and have to look at broadening the aperture, and getting candidates from adjacent talent pools, corporate businesses, asset management, family offices and so on to really get more mid-senior level women in,” Samtani said.
Beyond that, Samtani said that firms have to find a way to integrate and coach talent from non-investing background.
The report also recommends re-evaluating performance evaluation criteria, facilitate access to mentors and female role models, get men more actively involved and follow up beyond just policy making for effecting real change. Firms should also go beyond basic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track interventions on a regular basis to ensure policies are impactful.