The number of resources designed for women dealmakers is growing rapidly. Among the recent initiatives are a new funding program aimed at female-led companies and a new networking group for women dealmakers.
Exponent, which launched at the end of 2017, was co-founded by a wide array of women executives who work on deals, including: Marilyn Adler, senior managing director, Medley; Bonnie Harland, director, Pouschine Cook Capital Management; Nanette Heide, partner, Duane Morris; Michelle Van Hellemont, managing director, Accordion Partners; and Amy Weisman, director of business development, Sterling Investment Partners.
The New York group is gearing up for its first marquee Exponent Exchange event on July 12. The event is designed to bring “the best people and the best content together,” explains Heide. Exponent Exchange features keynote speaker Sallie Krawcheck, who previously served as CEO of several banks, including Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and the Citi Private Bank, and is the current CEO of Ellevest, an online investing platform aimed at women. Other scheduled speakers include: Lisa Bernstein, global head of human capital, Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO); Sarah Bradley, partner, Kainos Capital; Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn; Jennifer Lu, executive director, Moelis & Co. (NYSE: MC); and Cheraé Robinson, founder, Tastemakers Africa.
The organizers have succeeded in attracting an impressive group of sponsors for Exponent Exchange, including Apollo, Baird, BDO, Merrill Corp. and Moelis.
Another development earlier this summer that underscores increasing interest in initiatives aimed at women dealmakers was Goldman Sachs’ June announcement of a new program aimed to funding female-led companies. Launch With GS is investing $500 million of the firm’s and clients’ capital in private, late-stage, women-founded, women-owned or women-led companies.
“I’ve worked my whole career in an industry dominated by men,” writes Stephanie Cohen, chief strategy officer, Goldman Sachs, in a blog post. “As an investment banker for close to 20 years, my presence in board rooms was often an anomaly. Certain aspects of that experience were actually helpful: for one thing, people usually remembered what I had to say. But serving as the by-default ‘female perspective’ in many meetings has its drawbacks – and not only for women. The global economy is propelled by innovation, creativity and the sharing of diverse perspectives. Effectively shutting out half the population from conversations at the highest levels of business is holding everyone back. Changing that dynamic is going to take time, and it’s going to take a concerted effort by all organizations to foster environments that allow talent to thrive, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation or age.”