Carlyle Works To Bring In More Women

The lack of women on Wall Street has been written and discussed ad nauseum. Women don’t like the long hours at investment banks, they leave top management positions faster than men and sexism still exists, although it’s much more subtle.

So it’s interesting that Dealbook has a story today about the Carlyle Group’s effort to close the gender gap. Six of Carlyle’s 90 partners are women while five of its nonpartner managing directors are female, the story says. About 44% of Carlyle’s 949 employees are women. The story also highlights Karen Bechtel, who heads Carlyle’s healthcare team. Bechtel recently led the PE firm’s $6.1 billion deal to sell the real estate of nursing home operator HCR ManorCare.

“It’s not an all-boys club here,” Bechtel told Dealbook. “It’s about doing the right thing for investors.”

FINS, the finance career site of the Wall Street Journal, has written much about why women are leaving Wall Street. Computers have replaced junior, back-office workers, which are positions typically filled by women. Wall Street has also lost its allure. More than men, women hate Wall Street’s seamy reputation.

With so much written on the topic, I still found the Carlyle story interesting. Just two months ago Forbes came out with its list of 100 Most Powerful Women. At the time, I was shocked that no female PE exec made the list. In fact, when I asked my sources about the lack of women on the list, one head of a PE firm confessed that he didn’t know any senior female buyout executives.

In light of this, I’m glad Carlyle is making efforts to bring  in more women. I should also note that buyout shops do face an extra hurdle in expanding their diversity than investment banks. PE firms aren’t as big as IBs and have a more limited job selection with more specific skill requirements. Instead of the hundreds of jobs women can apply for at an investment bank, there are only three or four. So kudos to Carlyle for at least trying to bring in more women (although six of 90 means that roughly 7% of Carlyle partners are female, which seems a little low to me).

A Carlyle spokesman says the PE firm has made workplace diversity a priority. When the firm is recruiting for a position, it tells headhunters to show them a diverse pool of the best people. “That’s the goal,” the spokesman says. “To always hire the best and to make sure we have a diverse pool to choose from.”

(I did ask the Carlyle spokesman why Bechtel, or any other woman at the firm, didn’t make the Forbes list. “They didn’t ask us,” the spokesman says.)