First we learnt that KKR is going large on gender inequality. “Private equity has done a very poor job of having women in the workplace,” Kravis said. “I'm not sure why it is, but it's not acceptable.”
Like other firms, KKR is taking steps it hopes will redress this imbalance. Last year, the firm revised its travel policy to allow new parents to bring their child and caregiver on business trips – all paid for by KKR – until the child turns one. The firm has also increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks and introduced adoption reimbursement benefits for all employees.
We also learnt that KKR is going large on agriculture and healthcare in Asia. Asians want to eat more healthily, have more to spend on private healthcare and live longer, Kravis said. Putting its money where its mouth is, the firm's recent Chinese investments include a pork company, a poultry producer, an aquatic feed company and a dairy business.
What really piqued First Round's curiosity, however, was the decision of the lunch organisers to give the journalists – seated on one table – their pasta and salad meal in takeaway boxes with plastic cutlery, while other guests around the room enjoyed real crockery and silverware. First Round was sure that this was well-intended.
Perhaps they suspected the illustrious, time-pressed media representatives would be rushing from their places mid-meal to get Kravis's comments on the wire in real time. In which case, we'd need our lunch to go, of course. Not all the assembled hacks were so forgiving.
As one reporter from an online publication put it: “A lunch like that is easily the best way to get unfavourable press.”