Hamilton Lane’s Ada Pospi: True allyship is active, not passive

Affiliate title PE Hub Europe caught up with the London-based Secondary Investment team associate for Pride Month.

In honour of Pride Month, affiliate title PE Hub Europe is running a series of interviews to elevate the voices of members of the LGBTQ+ community who work within the private equity industry.

Ada Pospi, Hamilton Lane
Pospi: most people want to be good allies

Ada Pospi is an associate on the Secondary Investment team at Hamilton Lane, based in the firm’s London office. Pospi is responsible for due diligence of secondary investment opportunities, including LP portfolios and GP-led transactions.

Why is Pride Month important to you and your firm?

For me, Pride Month is a time to celebrate the progress in LGBTQ+ rights since the Stonewall Riots in 1969, while reflecting on the continued challenges our community faces around the world.

Since I first came out as bisexual about eight years ago, I have been flying back home to Poland every summer to attend pride marches and parades; it has been incredible to see how much bigger and more joyous they get each year. Pride Month is about celebrating our successes in the journey towards equality, as well as recognising the work that still needs to be done.

Within Hamilton Lane, while we run various LGBTQ+ initiatives throughout the year, Pride Month provides a particular opportunity to reflect on how we can best support the LGBTQ+ community as a firm. This June, we hosted an ‘Allyship in the Workplace’ talk, which addressed a range of topics around gender and sexuality in an incredibly accessible and judgement-free way.

I believe that most people want to be good allies, but often don’t quite know how to do that, and are scared of saying the wrong thing. Hosting talks such as this one provides an environment for employees to ask questions and understand how to best support their LGBTQ+ colleagues. Pride Month is also an opportunity for LGBTQ+ employees and allies across our global offices to connect and celebrate together. This year we also organised a ‘Show Your Pride’ day where employees wore rainbow- and pride-themed outfits to the office to celebrate Pride Month.

What challenges remain for LGBTQ+ people in the industry?

Coming out at work can be very daunting, and is a moment of real vulnerability, especially if there are no or few other openly LGBTQ+ people in your workplace that you could rely on for guidance and support (which in our industry is still very often the case, particularly in smaller firms). As a result, many LGBTQ+ people simply avoid talking about their personal lives at work – this might not seem like a big deal, but in reality, hiding such a significant part of your life takes up a lot of mental space and can be very draining. I strongly believe that being able to show up as your whole self at work is extremely important, not only for our mental well-being as individuals, but also in terms of reaching our full potential and productivity at work.

What are some of Hamilton Lane’s LGBTQ+ initiatives?

A group of us at Hamilton Lane formed HL Pride – an employee resource group for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. Over the last couple of years, we have been involved in a number of internal and external initiatives. Externally, we believe building connections across the industry is incredibly valuable, which is why Hamilton Lane supports Out Investors, a global network of LGBTQ+ investment professionals. HL sponsored an Out Investors event in San Francisco earlier this year, and members of our team have attended events in New York and London.

Internally, we have hosted some very informative talks, including the “Allyship in the Workplace” presentation, and an interview with Dr Vivienne Ming, who spoke about the “tax on being different”. These talks are a great way to start some important conversations within the firm. We have also organised some informal initiatives, such as compiling a Pride Month Reading List. We continue to work on various projects and initiatives both internally and externally.

How can the industry improve its retention of LGBTQ+ talent?

I think it is important to remember that true allyship is not passive (ie, not acting in a homophobic/transphobic manner) but active – it is about showing up for your LGBTQ+ colleagues and providing an environment in which they can thrive. There are some very simple and effective ways of doing this – for example, including pronouns on name tags during annual meetings and other events. This means that the burden of sharing one’s pronouns is taken off attendants who are, for example, gender nonconforming, which helps create a more welcoming environment.

Is there anything you’d like to say to talent considering joining the industry?

I would advise them to attend talks and events by groups such as Out Investors. Connecting with other LGBTQ+ investment professionals is a great way to create a support network and meet people in our industry who “get it”. It is also an opportunity to share experiences and tips on what best practice looks like in terms of supporting LGBTQ+ employees.