Diversity lacking in Canadian private equity, VC firms’ senior ranks: survey

TORONTO — A new survey has found that women and visible minorities are vastly underrepresented in the upper ranks of Canadian private equity and venture capital firms, holding between six and 18 per cent of senior roles.

The survey commissioned by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association and BDC Capital found that among the 23 private equity firms that participated, only 17 out of 145 partners were women, or 12 per cent.

Venture capital fared slightly worse at 11 per cent, with 14 female partners out of a total 132 at the 36 firms that participated in the benchmark survey, whose findings were released in a report today.

Visible minorities held just six per cent of senior roles at participating Canadian private equity firms, or eight out of 145 partners.

At the country’s venture capital firms, however, 18 per cent of partners were visible minorities, or 24 out of a total 132.

The figures trail the broader diversity trends in Canada’s banking and legal professions, where women hold 38 and 25 per cent of management roles and visible minorities hold 15 and nine per cent of senior management positions, the report said.

Michelle Scarborough, BDC Capital’s managing director of strategic investments, said while there has been a ground swell of support for change and we are heading in the right direction, “there is still much more to be done.”

“Diversity is essential to make a lasting impact on the future of innovation in Canada,” she said in a statement. “Diversity in leadership is proven to create more value for investors, more value for consumers, and support economic growth.”

Out of the CVCA’s 275 member firms, 91 participated in the survey between Jan. 10 and Feb. 1.

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