Meet Our Community March 12, 2019

Within Global Private Equity, A Proactive Supporter for Women and Diversity

Diversity is inarguably a challenge within countless industries, and the private equity space is not immune. One firm that recognizes the need for change and that has been making proactive efforts to improve it is TA Associates, a leading global growth private equity firm founded more than 50 years ago. The firm currently invests in over 70 companies across five main industries: technology, healthcare, financial services, consumer and business services. Athena is ecstatic to partner with TA Associates as the firm continues to advocate not only for diversity but also for helping female executives discover their greatest potential.

Athena will add value to TA Associates’ portfolio companies by driving curated female executive development programs for interested organizations. TA also will gain access to Athena’s worldwide network of board-savvy female leaders as potential independent board members for its portfolio companies.

“Diversity is something we’ve been focused on for many years,” said Kevin Masse, Chief Portfolio Officer for TA Associates. “We want to be impactful across our portfolio companies’ entire organization, and we believe that diversity, particularly at the executive level, is a crucial part of achieving success. Research shows that diversity leads to positive outcomes and improved organizational performance.”

“Our talent is our lifeblood.”

Kevin Masse, Chief Portfolio Officer  @ TA Associates

For TA Associates, the partnership with Athena extends far beyond investment outcomes. TA invests in what Masse calls high-growth “people businesses,” and he believes people are the heart of successful organizations.

“Investing in women executives is the right thing to do, and we believe that the biggest asset our companies have are their people,” said Masse. “TA’s ability to drive inclusion and deliver an impactful professional development program can positively impact our portfolio companies’ work environment, culture, and staff retention. We have a strong desire to make positive, impactful change through our partnership with Athena.”

Masse says many of the CEOs with whom TA partners support diversity efforts and executive development for their top leaders, but often don’t have the resources to achieve success in both areas. Athena can deliver both by providing TA’s portfolio company CEOs access to a vast network of highly qualified female leaders to help strengthen their boards as independent directors and provide professional development for women on their management teams.

Curating the right culture

As female C-level executives within TA’s portfolio companies—such as CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, and CHROs—progress through their career, Athena’s executive development program is one way for them to continue to build their leadership abilities and push themselves to their greatest potential.

“Culture begins at the top,” Masse said. “I want TA’s portfolio company executives to know that we’re invested in their professional development. Many of our executives work with TA multiple times throughout their career. They may work for a few years, leave, or they may come back. There’s an entire lifecycle to the relationships we have, and it’s ongoing.”

A roadmap to executive development

Athena and TA Associates’ relationship is a bit of a yin and yang equation. Through Athena, TA provides a roadmap to board-level development for female executives within its portfolio companies. In turn, Athena has access to TA Associates’ extraordinary caliber of female executives for possible independent board director opportunities.

Privately-held company boards are unique from those of publicly-traded companies. Masse has observed that within the private equity space, founders and CEOs are not just interested in a financial investment, they also want thought partnership. Since TA focuses on investments in growth businesses, this is particularly important, and the firm recognizes the need to demonstrate their value-add to each company’s CEO and senior leadership team. Through a collaborative approach, TA helps its portfolio companies access a world-class talent network to help them fill positions and to shape their companies through their next phases of growth.

Masse knows he’s working with a new kind of CEO and board profile. He’s seen a shift among TA’s portfolio companies, who look to TA for guidance and support as they build a more modern, strategic boardroom.

“Our relationship with Athena an important element to achieving our goal of improving diversity on our management teams and boards,” Masse said. “It’s incredibly difficult to find talent; companies are desperate to find the right talent. Athena can help accelerate our talent process and help close that gap.”

Masse thinks of the relationship as “connective tissue.” Diversity supports innovation. Diverse viewpoints are required at the board level. The program drives retention and executive satisfaction. These collectively drive better business outcomes.

“It’s an amazing, integrated cycle.”