EQT's Conni Jonsson speech stirs private equity industry to reflection-report
The speech given by Conni Jonsson, EQT Partners Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, at the SuperInvestor conference last week has stirred the private equity industry to ponder on where it is headed. According to a commentary which appeared on the The Wall Street Journal, Jonsson's talk held the mirror on the difficult issues faced by the industry, particularly on the culture of secrecy and lack of diversity.
At the conference held in Paris, Jonsson urged the delegates to actively engage themselves with the media so that the connection between private equity and society can be made more evident. The paper said that the message is not new but what made it interesting was how Jonsson placed some of the blame on investors. Although private equity firms usually get flak from media, the limited partners that hold sway on the decisions made by general partners are often spared of the blame. The investors are the ones that have the capacity to bring about change in the industry because of their influence, Jonsson said.
The commentary said that if investors were able to demonstrate this influence on lowering fees and the stand they take on social, environmental and governance issues, why would they not be able to do this for the private equity industry's reputation?
Jonsson also urged the industry to do more to promote diversity. He said that private equity firms should do their share in encouraging women to fill senior leadership roles. According to the report, Jonsson's take on the issue is timely, considering that gender equality is a hot issue at this time. The European Union is in the process of drafting plans that would increase the number of women sitting on the boards of publicly-listed firms.
However, the report said getting the balance that would put more women in senior roles in private equity firms is going to be a tricky business since not many of them are as aggressive as men in terms of putting themselves forward.