A powerful way to influence diversity and inclusion

Creating awareness of finance as a possible career path among a broader swath of society is one way PE firms are trying to increase the diversity of their industry.

From this month’s issue (download here), my Editor’s Letter on our cover story, in which I interview some of the senior people responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Blackstone, Carlyle and KKR:

Verdun Perry, Blackstone’s global head of Strategic Partners, the $36 billion secondaries and fund solutions business, got his start in finance while attending Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta. Perry got involved with a program called Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, which provides people of color an opportunity to work at Wall Street firms. Twenty years later, he is on SEO’s board.

Blackstone, KKR and Carlyle – whose diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are the subject of this month’s cover story – are all focusing efforts on hiring away from the traditional PE talent funnel of investment banks.

Crucially, that means not just looking elsewhere, but creating
awareness of finance among a wider set of youth and fighting the notion among some that a career in finance is beyond their reach.

In Blackstone’s case, the effort partly involves having employees participate in SEO’s Scholars program, mentoring underserved students in the New York City public education system in high school subjects. Many students know little about finance, Perry said, so “it’s amazing that they are now being exposed to a career they might otherwise not have gotten any exposure to.”

Each of the firms approaches this task differently – but that they do, and with an element of creativity, is critical to building a better industry. As we discuss, the data on diversity and outperformance is undeniable, and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion is simply the right thing to do.