Written by Demitri Diakantonis for Mergers & Acquisitions. Original article found on their website.
Mergers & Acquisitions names the 2021 PE Leaders in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, including Suzanne Yoon, founder and managing partner of Kinzie Capital.
With 20 years of investing in and advising middle market companies, Suzanne Yoon is the founder of Kinzie Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, with about $150 million AUM, and invests in lower middle-market companies across the consumer, manufacturing and service industries. Yoon launched the firm in 2017 with her long-standing vision to advance the use of technology, data analytics and innovation to help investors unlock value for companies.
Yoon is a respected leader in both the business and civic spheres, serving as the chair of the board of trustees for The National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the largest independent Donor Advised Fund manager in the world with approximately $17 billion under management, and on the board of numerous other civic organizations. She co-chairs the finance committee for the Council of Korean Americans. She also serves on the steering committees of the Private Equity Women Investor Network and the Women’s Association of Venture & Equity. She is also a member of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers and the Economic Club of Chicago.
Mergers & Acquisitions named Yoon one of the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A in 2020 and 2021, and the Wall Street Journal recognized her as a Top Female Deal Maker Shaping Private Equity’s Present and Future in 2019.
Yoon shared some insights with Mergers & Acquisitions in this Q&A:
What steps you are taking to improve DEI at your firm?
Diversity has been a core value at Kinzie from its inception. As we grow, we continue to look for ways to improve DEI. One of our primary focuses is on building a diverse team as we bring on new employees and interns, as well as implementing policies for equitable advancement within the firm. Additionally, we’ve created a role specifically designed to establish a culture of inclusion at Kinzie. Our Head of Culture & Engagement is dedicated to creating and maintaining a safe, equitable and engaging environment for all employees. Awareness and education are key as we work to build DEI initiatives at Kinzie. We sponsor regular, required DEI training for all members of our team to ensure smooth adoption of, and enthusiasm for, future DEI practices.
What steps are you taking to improve DEI at your portfolio companies?
As owners of leading middle market companies, we believe that thoughtful, systematic evaluation and proactive management of a company’s DEI practices is a source of sustainable competitive advantages and better financial outcomes. We work closely with company management to define DEI needs and goals that are specific to them, to ensure their longevity and success. A main point of focus after acquisition is representation within company leadership and management.
Prior to acquisition in November of 2019, Kinzie’s portfolio company Colony Display did not have a formal HR function to support their ethnically diverse workforce. Immediately following close, we worked with the leadership team to hire Colony’s first ever Director of Human Resources. In support of Kinzie’s commitment to DEI, the new HR Director engaged a DEI consultant to target initiatives that will foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the company. To create a more inclusive culture at Colony, we have worked with the HR team to implement several changes to ensure they are communicating and engaging with all employees. Colony has recruited bi-lingual HR employees and safety leaders to ensure that non-English speaking employees can easily communicate with these departments. Additionally, Colony has purchased a bi-lingual intranet to ensure all company information is available in both English and Spanish.
We are actively leveraging best practices to define DEI goals and standards across all portfolio companies. This includes organization-wide title and pay rationalization to ensure equitable compensation for all employees, and a focus on the diversification of employee demographics through new hires.
Additionally, we help build partnerships with organizations to open up the talent pipeline for companies. One of our portfolio companies recently partnered with Elite Meet, an organization that provides networking and employment opportunities for transitioning elite military veterans.
See the full list of 2021 Private Equity Leaders in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here.