Women Leaders

Kara Helander, The Carlyle Group

Kara Helander

Human Capital

Editors’ Note

Prior to joining Carlyle, Kara Helander was a Managing Director at BlackRock where she led the firm’s global inclusion and diversity efforts, and philanthropy initiatives. She founded the Science of Diversity and Inclusion (SODI), a coalition of top companies and behavioral scientists working to design and test new approaches to accelerate diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. She also led CSR at Barclay’s Global Investors (BGI). Prior to BGI, Helander launched and led the Western Region for Catalyst in Silicon Valley. She serves on the Board of Directors of Leading Educators and received her B.A. from Vanderbilt University and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Firm Brief

The Carlyle Group (carlyle.com) is a global alternative asset manager with $212 billion of assets under management. Carlyle’s purpose is to invest wisely and create value on behalf of its investors, many of whom are public pensions. Carlyle invests across four segments – corporate private equity, real assets, global market strategies and investment solutions. The Carlyle Group employs more than 1,600 people in 31 offices across six continents.

Will you discuss your role at Carlyle and your key areas of focus at the firm?

In this newly created position, I lead the firm’s inclusion and diversity efforts, helping to ensure that Carlyle attracts, develops and retains top talent. I also focus on increasing board diversity at our portfolio companies. This is an amazing opportunity to have an impact on Carlyle, on our portfolio companies and on the broader society, given Carlyle’s reach.

Carlyle places a major emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Will you highlight these efforts and how engrained they are as a part of Carlyle’s culture?

Seeing opportunities and seizing them is fundamental to success in our business. Diverse and inclusive teams can tease out ideas from every angle to generate competitive business insight. There is abundant evidence that diverse and inclusive teams outperform in execution, so it is very important that we have people with diverse perspectives, knowledge bases, interests, passions and cultural identities. These differences in what we know, in how we see the world and in the models we use to draw insights are critical to our success.

Our co-CEOs, Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee, have made inclusion and diversity a priority. If a firm doesn’t have that leadership commitment, change simply will not happen.

The firm has made meaningful progress over the past five years. For example, women hold 23 percent of our senior positions (Principal/Partner) in the U.S., compared with an industry average of 9.4 percent. These leaders run major investment groups and functions around the globe. In addition to the women profiled here, Sandra Horbach is Co-Head of U.S. Buyout and oversees our two largest funds. Lauren Dillard leads our Investment Solutions business. Georgette Kiser is Head of Global IT.

How important are metrics to track the impact of Carlyle’s diversity and inclusion programs?

Metrics are absolutely key. They determine where you need to improve; they help monitor progress; and they strengthen accountability. However, metrics alone are not enough. They represent one of four key ingredients to driving progress in inclusion and diversity. Unambiguous leadership commitment is essential. Without it, progress is an uphill battle. Increasing D&I is important, so people across the firm need to understand “why it’s important for me” and be inspired to change behavior. Finally, education combined with tailored reinforcements ensure that everyone knows the steps they can take in their day-to-day and are reminded to act.