First Round: KKR's family business

First Round doesn’t get to fly business class. But if it did, it would lie back, sip champagne and pretend the cabin crew had banned all electronic devices. First Round believes that nothing – including disruptive children – should be allowed to disturb this serene scene.

So when it read that KKR has revised its travel policy to permit employees to bring a new child and a caregiver on business trips, paid for by the firm, its first thought was not, will they be travelling at the front or the back of the plane, but a hearty well done.

The firm has also increased leave time for new parents. It deserves a pat on the back for going some way to accommodating staff’s family needs, and especially those of its female employees. It is the only major PE firm, reportedly, to offer such a travel policy.

First Round has said before that the industry should do more to encourage talented female professionals to consider private equity as a career and to support their rise. Similarly, it applauded Blackstone when, in April, it announced it had extended maternity leave beyond the US industry norm of 12 weeks to 16, in an effort to attract and retain women.

But while First Round likes the idea of a Mary Poppins helping new parents juggle the demands of home and work, it wants more from an industry that prides itself on innovation, but is still well behind the curve on gender balance.
More firms offering longer and more flexible maternity/paternity leave would be a start. First Round could go on to talk about flexible hours and other family-friendly arrangements.

But the industry does need to hire more women. KKR’s 93 senior professionals only 12 are women, according to Bloomberg, almost in line with its data showing that just one in 10 senior managers at the top 10 US buyout firms is female.

PE even lags what First Round considers to be the fuddy-duddy world of investment banking, where 16 percent of senior positions are held by women. Now that really is something to change.