Paradigm Blueprint Empowers Data-Driven DEI for Advent’s Portfolio Companies

Advent International, one of the largest and most experienced global private equity investors, has been working for years to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive partnership. Spearheaded by its senior leadership team, the firm established global and regional diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committees, created awareness and training programs, instituted more inclusive hiring practices, and formed affinity groups to foster inclusion for underrepresented communities within the organization. Advent was pleased to see it was making progress — with almost equal gender representation throughout the firm, and a growing percentage of investment professionals from underrepresented backgrounds — and saw the opportunity to promote change beyond its own organization. 

“As an owner of more than 30 companies in the U.S., we’re responsible for over 125,000 employees across the country. We believed we could have a broader impact by working with these businesses to assess and enhance DEI initiatives nationwide,” said Chris Pike, a Managing Partner at Advent International.

Enter Paradigm Blueprint, a new platform for developing and managing DEI strategies. With Blueprint, Advent realized it could offer its portfolio companies a data-driven solution for assessing how their people and talent programs impact DEI. Blueprint analyzed each company’s existing data to identify and prioritize initiatives that will drive impact, and provided a set of metrics to track progress.

According to Marco Mendes, Advent International’s Head of Portfolio Support in North America, “We chose Paradigm because it offers our portfolio companies the ability to self-assess their infrastructure and workforce practices that directly tie to DEI progress. The process is thorough, yet easy, and produces useful insights supported by specific action recommendations.”

Results at a glance

100%: Companies that are expected to use Blueprint to reassess their DEI efforts 1 year after their initial implementation

The Process

  • In October 2020, Advent offered Blueprint to its North American-based portfolio companies: 18 at the time. Each company used Blueprint to complete an audit to assess its current DEI efforts. Blueprint analyzed the data and generated a report that included: (1) scores on five areas Paradigm has found are most critical to DEI, (2) insights into its strengths and areas of opportunity and (3) prioritized recommendations to help accelerate its DEI efforts.
  • Advent met with each company to discuss its Blueprint report and DEI plans. Advent also provided a suggested activation roadmap to help the business navigate, manage and track progress, as well as a sample framework for reporting to its board of directors.

The Progress

One year after initially using Blueprint:

  • Many of the companies that used Blueprint have made headway on their action items. These vary by business, and include initiatives such as collecting demographic data from job candidates on gender, race, ethnicity and other categories; training managers on foundational DEI topics; tracking the diversity of their leader population; and hiring a new DEI leader or expanding the role of the existing DEI team.
  • All North American portfolio companies are expected to report progress on DEI annually to their boards, using the Blueprint framework and metrics.

“Blueprint provides bite-sized feedback with clear actions. It does not feel insurmountable in terms of making changes. The results are in a format that can be presented to senior leadership.”

Advent Portfolio Company

What Comes Next?

Advent is continuing to work with its portfolio companies to drive positive impact. In 2022:

  • It is expected that every North American company that took part in the initial will use Blueprint to re-assess their efforts and track progress made from 2021.
  • Businesses new to the Advent portfolio will be encouraged to use Blueprint as part of their comprehensive DEI strategies.
  • Companies will focus on further increasing the diversity of their leadership teams and boards. To support this effort, Advent has built a database of diverse executives and engaged firms to help with recruiting. It will also sponsor its second annual Advent Leadership Academy, an executive education program at Harvard Business School designed to create a pipeline of diverse leaders for companies across North America, as well as a separate program for businesses in Europe.

According to the CHRO of an Advent portfolio company, “I liked the prioritization aspect of Blueprint with clear, attainable recommendations that have the potential for the highest impact. I also liked the efficiency of the whole process. I feel compelled to take action as a result of the information received, which I consider the most important outcome.”

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