Special Report: Gender Gap

Alternatives titans work to expand role of women

Alternatives powerhouses KKR and Carlyle are taking steps to increase the number of women in their workforces.

"As of Jan. 1, 44% of our total workforce of about 1,200 employees were female and 21% of KKR senior executives were women," said Kristi Huller, New York-based spokeswoman for KKR & Co. Inc., in an email.

KKR increased the number of female investment executives by 55% as of Jan. 1 from the year-earlier date, she noted.

"We have found that many women are not considering this industry when thinking about career options and for those who do begin their careers in private equity, keeping them in the industry continues to be a challenge," Ms. Huller said.

"To address this, we think it's important to offer good role models, good benefits and flexibility, in addition to partnering with organizations that focus on pipelining, investing and developing female talent."

KKR has just launched an in-house mentoring program and a new search process with the goal of increasing diversity. KKR executives know that when they're hiring for a position, they need to be interviewing a diverse candidates set of candidates, Ms. Huller explained.

The firm also has a U.S. MBA summer internship designed to give women and other diverse candidates exposure to working at KKR, Ms. Huller said; last year's class was 78% female.

In 2014, KKR created an Inclusion and Diversity Council with 11 of its most senior executives to focus on advancing and retaining female employees. KKR also has partnered with Parity Partner's P3 program, a yearlong professional learning program that provides women with career skills and access to a professional network that prepares them to succeed as leaders.

The Carlyle Group LP has had a mandate from the top to increase gender diversity for the past seven or eight years, said Christopher Ullman, the firm's Washington-based spokesman. The new co-CEOs of Carlyle Group — Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee — have made increasing diversity one of their main goals.

Currently, 17% of Carlyle's investment professionals globally are women and 32% of executives hired in 2017 are women, Mr. Ullman said.

The firm has a new mandate that when it is hiring for a position, there must be a diverse set of candidates, he said. Carlyle is requiring its outside search firms to offer diverse slates.

Over the past five years, 50% of the incoming class of Carlyle employees has been gender and racially diverse, he noted. Last year, the incoming class hit 63%. Most new associates regardless of gender or ethnicity usually leave after two years, mainly to get their MBAs and possibly return as a senior associate, he said.