PE Manager caught up with Hamilton Lane managing director Andrea Kramer to gauge her views on the experiences of women within the private equity industry. Late last year Kramer was named a board member of the Private Equity Women Investor Network – an invitation-only organisation designed to provide women private equity professionals a forum to network, exchange ideas and increase the profile of female leaders within the industry.
In your view, has the glass ceiling been cracked in the private equity industry?
Private equity is in most cases a partnership of investment professionals. You asked whethere there was equal pay at these levels—at the top of the house, it is hard to see partnerships with pay structures that are less than equal. Anyone rising to this level has the negotiation and deal skills that are requisite, and it is hard to believe that the same skills would not be used for the benefit of each person.
That said, there are few women at the very top level of ownership positions at private equity firms, but our analysis indicates that pay is comparable.
From your perspective, is there any discrimination against women in the industry?
Twenty years ago it was easy to state pretty much unequivocally that private equity was a boy's club,
but that can be said of many industries. Look at IBM. After more than 100 years of operation the company has just named its first female chief executive. Thankfully, private equity has been much more advanced in its thinking as there are many women in the ranks of investment professionals.
We expect this will continue, particularly as large firms continue to institutionalise. Take Hamilton Lane, for example: the firm has grown quickly over the last 20 years and today has a female employee base of more than 40 percent. We expect that many more women will rise to the most senior levels of private equity firms.
Are female private equity professionals sometimes pressured to adopt any specific personality traits to make it far?
While it goes without saying, excelling in this business takes intelligence, persistence and determination, though that is not always enough when operating within this industry. Confidence is the single most important factor that differentiates successful women in this business.
How about when travelling abroad? Any discrimination issues in more patriarchal cultures?
Let’s face it: there are still many places in the world where it is not easy to do business as a woman. In some places it is more effective and potentially safer to send a male colleague to a meeting or event. The reality is that this is not beholden to just private equity but a broader issue across the business world.