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Joining forces

TA Associates partners with Athena Alliance on gender diversity

TA Associates’ Kevin L. Masse

TA Associates executives are hoping to diversify their portfolio company boards by adding more women while, at the same time, offering female portfolio company executives coaching to help them get the set of experiences needed to attain a board seat.

The company became the first growth equity firm to form a strategic partnership with Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based non-profit Athena Alliance, which aims to help connect its portfolio companies with qualified female candidates for board seats from Athena's network of female executives.

"Creating gender diversity across our portfolio has been a primary objective for a long period of time," said Kevin L. Masse, Boston-based chief portfolio officer at TA Associates.

Due to compliance issues, TA Associates declined to provide information on the number of women on the boards of TA's portfolio companies. However, a 2017 survey of 300 software companies by OpenView Venture Partners showed that 71% had female board members, just 4% have parity between men and women on their boards, and 12% have parity in their leadership ranks. OpenView also is an Athena partner.

The Athena partnership takes TA Associates' internal efforts one step further by providing the firm access to Athena's network of female board candidates and TA's portfolio company female executives coaching on how to qualify to sit on boards. As executives move through their careers they hit "inflection points that can stall their progress, Mr. Masse said. "It takes mentoring and coaching to get to the next level. It's all about experiences and diverse experiences."