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Private equity makes progress on gender equity

Stats show that South Africa is ahead of its global peers. 
Savca has launched a programme that will mentor first-time fund managers, says CEO Tanya Van Lill. Image: Supplied

The South African private equity industry is making significant advances within the area of transformation, a 2019 survey released by the SA Venture Capital Association (Savca) shows.

According to the survey, the percentage of female and black professionals within the industry has increased to 29.6% and 34.9% respectively, up from 21.8% and 29.9% in 2017.

A 2017 Preqin survey showed that, globally, women occupy 9.4% of senior positions at private equity fund managers, and 11.5% of those at venture capital fund managers.


Source: Savca

Savca CEO Tanya van Lill notes the improvement in gender equity within the local industry and says women are becoming more aware of the private equity (PE) and venture capital spaces as a career path. 

She adds that there has been a large push internationally towards gender diversity in the PE space, and locally “we are increasingly seeing women from investment banking starting their own PE funds”.

Read: Managers pick mini-me proteges of same gender, race – study

However, Cathy Goddard, chief executive of Firebird Fund Managers and a member of the Savca board, points out that there is still a long way to go in reducing salary discrimination among genders.

“If you look at benchmarks, you will find men and women on the same remuneration level but the discrepancies sit in the bonus structures, which are discretionary.”

Lucrative salaries

Goddard says someone starting out in the private equity industry could expect to earn R450 000 a year, moving to R750 000 after three to five years.

“After years of hard work and experience, someone at CEO level in private equity could expect to earn about R2 million to R3 million a year plus bonuses.”

However, she points out that the R3 million annual salary is an unrealistic expectation for anyone still cutting their teeth in the industry. 

While more females and black individuals are showing interest in joining the sector, it comes at a time when mentors in the industry are few and far between.

Thiru Pather, investment principal at the SA SME Fund, advises young fund managers to take every opportunity to learn. “You have to put in the time to become more experienced and marketable. 

“You need to think about your value-add to the organisation and the industry.”

Firebird’s Goddard is currently closing out a R500 million gender-lens fund in the SME space, which seeks to improve gender equity. “We don’t believe in only investing in women-owned businesses because that would reduce our pipeline. There simply aren’t enough.

“What we’re saying is that in our wake, we will leave women-owned businesses. So, the day we step in, we ask the company to sign up to a five-year programme and understand that we are going to bring women in at ownership level,” she explains.

Mentoring programme

Savca recently launched a fund manager programme that will kick off in 2020 and is designed to encourage and mentor around 36 first-time fund managers.

Van Lill says the association’s research has highlighted three problem areas for first-time fund managers: fundraising, running out of working capital, and a lack of expertise within the team.

“Most new fund managers have worked on a specific focus area, rather than running a project from end to end.”

Van Lill says the year-long programme will work with eight to 12 companies, which will be able to put forward three candidates each. These candidates will be exposed to workshops, coaching and mentorship throughout the year.

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what happened in 2016? what’s the total number of professionals? an 8% swing in a year doesn’t look credible.

For the life of me, I can’t understand the Left’s obsession with equal OUTCOME. I don’t care what race/sex/age/religion you are, so long as you provide a good service, then I’m happy.

Why does it HAVE to be equal weightings in all these different kind of variables: sex, race, age, weight, height, gender, religion, LGBTQ+ status, if you prefer weetbix/rice krispies, etc, etc.

They are more worried about how they look/are represented/perceived, than how the work is performed. It should be by the best, whether they be male/female, white/black, but alas.

/rant over.

I hear you I also hate identity politics but 20% female looks low. I understand that it is hard if not impossible to get to 50/50 because many females choose to become full time moms, choose not forced

However 20% is too low that would imply that 60% of the potential female talent pool in finance choose to be full time moms.

I have a CA and a CFA which roughly puts you in the talent pool, in both those courses females accounted for 40 – 50% of the class and especially in CA accounted for probably 60 – 70% of the top performers!

So while I could not agree more with your view that we should look towards equality of outcome, but here you have a situation where females are equally if not better qualified for the job yet they make up only 20%

End of comments.





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