Beth Houghton named on Real Deals Future 40 Diversity and Inclusion Leaders list


Palatine Private Equity partner & head of impact investing fund, Beth Houghton, has won a spot on Real Deals’ Future 40 Diversity and Inclusion Leaders list.

Beth joined Palatine Private Equity in 2007 and became a partner in 2015. Beth has been instrumental in shaping the firm’s award-winning approach to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). This led to the launch of Palatine’s first Impact Fund, which she manages, in 2017, one of the few female-led private equity funds in the UK. The Impact Fund set a marker down in the industry as the first mid-market, returns-focussed fund of its type. It is solely targeted at profitable businesses which make a clear positive difference to society and the environment.

Under Beth’s leadership, Palatine’s portfolio companies have developed markedly more gender-diverse boards. Currently, 75% of the GP’s portfolio has female representation on the board – up from 43% in 2017 and well above the national average. In addition, more than a third of management roles within Palatine’s portfolio companies are female.

The female FD of Palatine portfolio company The Alchemist, Victoria Stewart, has been shortlisted for the Northern Power Women Power List 2020. Beth has worked closely with Victoria on several ESG-focussed initiatives, culminating in a BVCA award for The Alchemist, and supported her development as a senior female figure in North West corporate finance.

Outside her direct work with the portfolio, Beth is a vocal advocate of the need for the industry as a whole to become more inclusive. She is a founding member and regular speaker at the 6% Club: a North West organisation established with a manifesto to improve the statistic that only 6% of the population of the deal-making community is female. Beth and her co-founders host events and maintain a network of meetups and mentoring opportunities to break down barriers to the industry and encourage more female entrants.

She has also contributed to Level 20’s Inspiring Women series, another not for profit organisation aiming to inspire more women to join and succeed in the private equity industry.

In 2019, she was voted Changemaker of the Year by her peers in the North West. An inaugural award, the category was launched specifically recognise the trailblazing impact Beth has had as a strong female role model in the industry regionally, and for her work with the aforementioned diversity-focussed organisations. In 2019 she was also nominated for Insider North West Dealmaker award the first women to be nominated for this award in 25 years.

Despite the progress she has effected, Beth accepts there is work for the wider industry to be done and that success will require a collaborative, iterative approach. To this end, Beth contributed to a Palatine gender diversity workshop last November [2019]. Attended by senior leaders from both Palatine’s portfolio and the wider deal-making community, a series of panel discussions and presentations explored how best to attract and retain a better gender-balanced workforce, including practical advice on identifying and addressing unconscious bias.

The resulting recommendations were: for more gender balance focus group; an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) steering committee and framework; recruiters being encouraged to supply a better balance of candidates; gender blind recruitment briefs and gender de-coded job adverts; unconscious bias training; data collection on diversity topics; and reverse mentoring. These findings were published and shared with the regional corporate finance community.

Watch a video from our Gender Balance Forum here.

Private equity invests in all types of businesses across many different countries and societies, and yet, the people who invest, mainly share a similar race, sex or socio-economic background. Luckily, there is an increasing minority that are actively trying to change this.

In this years’ list, we celebrate those who are breaking down these pre-existing barriers. Those who are opening the doors of the asset class to all, to make it an industry where people from all walks of life are accepted, welcomed and have the opportunity to succeed.

Tayla Misiri

Editor, Real Deals