More Private Equity Firms Embrace Impact As a Path to Outperformance.

Tensie Whelan

By Tensie Whelan

Across the globe, some 10,000 private equity firms enjoy ownership rights in 40,000 portfolio companies, which in turn manage 20 million employees.  PE funds are majority owners of hospitals, newspapers, schools, real estate, industrial manufacturers, consumer brands and retail, among other sectors that have significant environmental and social impacts. 

At that scale, private equity has a significant influence on corporate behavior. PE firm policies and approaches can create value for all stakeholders – or extract value to the detriment of other stakeholders. Unfortunately, it’s often been the latter.

Academic researchers have shown, for example, that private equity-owned nursing homes increase prices, lay off nurses, and increase mortality rates. PE-owned private colleges increase student debt and reduce the likelihood of graduation. And PE-owned local newspapers eliminate journalists and local coverage, which correlates with lower voter turn-out in local elections. 

Read the full Impact Alpha article.
Tensie Whelan is a Clinical Professor of Business and Society and Director of the Center for Sustainable Business.