August 08, 2022

A More Equitable M&A Future is Here

By Deb LaMere, CHRO at Datasite

Despite current market conditions and the prospect of shrinking profits, some companies continue to make diversity, equity and inclusion a priority, even as a recession looms.

While this is encouraging news, it’s something we at Datasite have actually noticed for some time now, particularly when it comes to financial services and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). And while there is still more progress to be made, new evidence shows a more equitable and hopeful M&A picture is emerging.

Here are a few specific signs that I recently shared with over 100 women dealmakers at Exponent’s annual Exchange Women that demonstrate what I mean, and what I am observing in the workplace.

DE&I Matters in M&A

First, diversity, equity and inclusion matters in M&A. Twenty-two percent of 600 global dealmakers surveyed reported seeing a deal fall apart in the last year due to DE&I issues uncovered in due diligence. Furthermore, most cited HR hiring, advancement and retention policies as the greatest DE&I risk to a deal, followed by sexual harassment claims. DE&I still isn’t viewed as great a threat as other risks, such as environmental issues like climate change, but it shows how a company’s culture can affect its performance and value.  

DE&I matters in the workplace

DE&I doesn’t just matter in the context of a deal, though. It also matters in the context of the workplace that we all inhabit day in and day out – whether virtually, or in-person. In this, there has been significant progress in the representation of women in dealmaking. For example, of the 600 dealmakers Datasite surveyed, 44% identified as women, including 49% from the Millennial generation. What’s more, while both genders are equally asking for promotions, women are 5% more likely to be offered a promotion and experience faster career progression to manager level than men, according to our research. Additionally, more women than men reported getting a base pay raise of 16% or more last year, though overall raises for men and women last year remain unequally distributed.

More to be done

However, it isn’t all good news. We also found that more women than men in M&A, 30% versus 26%, respectfully, are actively seeking other jobs. With the competing factors of the current Great Resignation and M&A talent crunch, these percentages can add up fast. Men also dominate M&A at the senior manager and executive levels. Additionally, 40% or more of both genders are not seeking a promotion out of concerns about workload and travel.

Finally, children and childcare are areas that deserve more attention. Most M&A professionals reported they have children under 18 years of age, including 10% more men than women. What’s particularly interesting though, is that more than 50% of both men and women consider themselves the primary caretakers of children 18 years old or younger. During the height of the pandemic, more women than men in M&A – and in majority of other companies – said they felt burned out as a result of doing more caretaking. Now however, it seems both genders are managing multiple responsibilities, something dealmaking organizations will want to consider as they seek to retain and nurture talent.

Creating enduring and sustainable value will always be a sound investment strategy. And when it comes to M&A – both in the in the context of a deal and the workplace – organizations that prioritize DEI efforts and resources will help drive successful business outcomes.

Talent and Diversity in Dealmaking

To better understand how dealmakers view diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in their own workplaces and in dealmaking, Datasite surveyed 600 global M&A professionals across the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Australia.

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