Key women?

For an industry that’s only 40 or so years old, the private equity universe can be pretty old-fashioned. That is evident when it comes to the gender breakdown in the business, which undoubtedly remains very much male-dominated.

Fortunately, private equity firms have been taking different steps to combat this imbalance, with many sponsoring recruitment programs or offering workshops catered to female employees.

While increased sensitivity to these gender issues might be the way of the future, some things (like the language used in limited partnership agreements, for example) have yet to catch up with the times, prompting a call for change by some in the industry.

In a meeting with pfm, a fund formation lawyer pointed out one phrase that has yet to be modernized: the “key man” clause. When recounting a recent discussion with a client about an LPA, the lawyer corrected himself to say not only key man, but also “key woman or key person.”

So, is private equity finally going the politically correct route? After all, it’s no longer “mailman” but “mail carrier,” not “stewardess” but “flight attendant.” And if firms do make the change, will LPs notice the difference? Some gender-neutral food for thought.