Blackstone extends maternity leave

As part of an effort to recruit and retain more women, the private equity giant is now offering a 16-week maternity leave.

The Blackstone Group is taking a stab at making the private equity industry more attractive for women, extending its maternity leave policy from 12 weeks to 16 weeks, according to a memo released Wednesday and seen by pfm.

“The financial services industry has historically struggled to attract and retain women,” said Blackstone chairman and CEO Steve Schwarzman in the memo, first reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. “By having strong policies in place that support working mothers (and others that help employees integrate their work and family responsibilities more broadly), we hope to help make asset management a more attractive industry for women.”

Most rival firms offer a 12-week leave to new mothers, WSJ reported.

The fully paid leave is effective immediately and will be rolled out worldwide in accordance with country-specific statutory leave offerings. Blackstone also offers additional resources to working parents including paternity leave, subsidized back-up childcare and eldercare and onsite “family” rooms for nursing mothers.

“Having policies that support the recruitment and retention of great women is good for business,” Schwarzman added.

Blackstone already outpaces its peers in the number of women in senior roles at the firm. At the average firm with more than $25 billion in assets under management (AUM), women hold 12.1 percent of the upper level positions, according to Pitchbook data. At Blackstone, which boasts $310 billion in AUM, 557 of its 1880 employees considered professionals (or about 30 percent) are women, a spokesperson confirmed. Of the firm’s 139 senior managing directors, however, only seven are women (or about 5 percent).

The lack of female executives has long been an issue in the industry. Overall, the percentage of women in upper level roles at private equity firms is 8.8 percent, Pitchbook reported in a March survey.