Gender Diversity in the Marketplace

The latest research by The LCap Group on gender diversity within the boards of private equity (PE) backed organisations.
Samuel Robberts

May 29th, 2024

Gender Diversity in the Marketplace

The latest research by The LCap Group on gender diversity within boards at exit within private equity (PE) backed organisations reveals a stark disparity in the representation of women in key executive roles. This analysis delves into the rates of female executives across various functions, providing a detailed examination of the underlying trends and the broader implications for the PE sector and corporate governance.

In the UK's PE marketplace, women represent 17% of all executives. This figure is emblematic of the broader issues of gender inequality in the business world, especially in high-stakes, high-impact positions. When disaggregating this data by role, the disparities become even more pronounced:

  • Chairs: Only 2% of chairs are female, translating to a ratio of one in fifty. This is particularly concerning given the chairs' critical role in setting strategic directions and overseeing the entire board's function.

  • CEOs: As the face of their companies and primary decision-makers, only 7% of CEOs are female, or one in fourteen. The CEO role is pivotal for shaping the company's culture, strategy, and financial success.

  • CFOs: Women hold 13% of CFO positions or one in eight. While slightly better than other roles, the CFO's crucial influence on financial stewardship and strategic fiscal planning remains predominantly male.

  • Technology Leaders: In a sector critical for future-proofing businesses and driving innovation, only 5% of technology leaders are women, approximately one in twenty. This underrepresentation in technology leadership is especially significant given the increasing importance of tech in all sectors.

  • Revenue & Marketing Leaders: These roles, critical for driving business growth and customer engagement, have a relatively higher representation at 16% female, or one in six. While better, it still reflects a significant gap.

  • HR Leaders: This is the only function where women are significantly represented, holding 71% of these positions, or three in four. The high percentage of women in HR roles suggests that traditional gender role stereotyping may still influence career paths.

  • Operations Leaders: Women, or one in twelve, hold 8% of these roles. Operations leadership, crucial for overseeing the daily functioning of businesses, continues to see low female participation.

These statistics reflect a broader issue within the private equity industry and its backed organisations, where gender diversity at the executive level is a matter of social equity and business efficacy. Numerous studies have shown that diverse boards and leadership teams can enhance decision-making processes, foster creative solutions, and mirror the gender composition of customer bases and lower-level employees.

The underrepresentation of women in these high-ranking roles may stem from several systemic barriers:

  • Cultural Norms and Biases: There remains a persistent bias against women's capabilities in leadership, often exacerbated by a lack of visible role models.

  • Network Effects: Executive positions are frequently filled through networks that are traditionally male-dominated.

  • Work-Life Balance Challenges: The demands of top executive roles are often seen as incompatible with traditional family responsibilities, which disproportionately affect women.

For further reading you may find the following links interesting:


  2. The state of diversity in global private markets: 2022 | McKinsey

  3. Do women investors think differently to men? | Lombard Odier


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