Women entrepreneurs could boost UK economy

Monday 23 February 2015

Women entrepreneurs, such as limited company owners, sole traders and contractors, could play a greater role in the UK economy.

This was the finding of an independent report, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), titled Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise. It said that women entrepreneurs could help to create jobs, boost growth and reduce gender inequality.

While the number of small and medium-sized businesses run by women is on the rise, the report says that there is still more work to be done to reduce the gender gap in terms of entrepreneurship among men and women. It made recommendations to increase the amount of female entrepreneurs there are in the UK.

The report suggests that business support needs to have 'inclusive thinking' at the heart so that everyone can benefit. To begin with, it says that an accurate picture of diversity levels needs to be built and so it suggests that the government creates a strong evidence base.

It gives a number of suggestions as to what can be done to gather evidence, such as including tick boxes asking about diversity on tendering forms and getting local enterprise partnerships to keep data on business diversity.

Where planning for businesses is concerned, the report suggests business support should keep diversity in mind and understand that a 'one size fits all' policy may fail to engage some businesses.

The report noted that there are a number of barriers for women seeking support from the government, networks, finance and HR advice. It says that the government should try to break these barriers, such as through being more inclusive in the types of support that it offers through the Great Business website.

It is also suggested that senior stakeholders should speak more inclusively and that they should be mindful of unconscious bias that may seep through in their business decisions.

More diverse support was another recommendation that the report noted. It said that there are certain instances where women feel shut out from support in spite of the fact that men move freely in it. The report suggested that the My Business Support tool on the Great Business website could potentially be used to deal with this but says that there is scope to develop this tool further.

Ambassador for women in enterprise Lorely Burt MP, who was in charge of the report, said: "Women entrepreneurs have huge potential to build on Britain’s hard-won recovery, creating a stronger economy and a fairer society.

"Sadly too much female entrepreneurial talent remains untapped although the coalition government has made progress.

"In my report I outline the economic and the moral case for taking further action to unlock women’s business talent.

"We need to encourage government and business to think inclusively at all times. We must also break unnecessary barriers between entrepreneurs and the support they need to succeed.

"I am pleased to see the government is taking action and I look forward to further progress over the years ahead."


By Victoria McDonnell

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