How PE Can Drive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Internally, at Portfolio Companies and Industrywide

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are key components of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria that are attracting more attention in the current cultural climate. PE sponsors are uniquely positioned to promote the advancement of DEI initiatives given their status as large employers, investors, portfolio managers and industry leaders, provided they adopt proactive measures and tools to do so. Among others, those include promoting diversity on boards and within senior management; collecting data on diversity standards; facilitating data transparency; and providing safe environments at their firms and portfolio companies for affinity groups to thrive. Out Leadership – a global LGBT+ business network – recently hosted a program examining opportunities and tools for PE firms to drive diversity. Moderated by Ropes & Gray partner Amanda N. Persaud, the panel featured Ken Mehlman, partner, global head of public affairs and co‑head of global impact at KKR; Brian Pendleton, president of the board of commissioners for the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System; Cynthia Soledad, co‑lead of global diversity and inclusion at Egon Zehnder; and Eric Duchon, global head of real estate ESG at Blackstone. This article explores the key insights and takeaways from the discussion. For further coverage of DEI issues, see “How University Endowments Approach Diversity at Asset Managers and Racial Equity in Investments” (Feb. 9, 2021); and “Practical Guidance for Advisers Seeking to Foster Diversity and Inclusion” (Jul. 14, 2020).

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