Women urged to reach for the top in business

18 February 2015

The female of the species is, apparently, more deadly than the male. But is that the case in the boardroom, a traditionally male-dominated environment where women are constantly fighting the system?

According to an independent report, women entrepreneurs are now well positioned to play a more prominent role in the UK economy, helping to create jobs, boost growth and cut gender inequality.

Business Secretary Vince Cable’s women in enterprise champion, Lorely Burt MP, published the report making a series of recommendations aimed at boosting the number of female entrepreneurs.

The report found that although the number of female-run small and medium-sized businesses has increased, there is still more to be done to close the gender gap between men and women.

A number of steps have already been taken to inspire and support women to set up and grow their own businesses, including the £1 million Women and Broadband Challenge Fund, a series of mentoring events and the Aspire Fund.

The Business is GREAT website is the single place to go for help and the Business Support Tool is continually being expanded and developed with users. On the website there is a specific section for women entrepreneurs.

Last year UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) published a guide for first time exporters aimed at helping women expand into overseas markets. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Government Equalities Office have also launched a new research project to find new ways of reaching out to female entrepreneurs.

The government will be writing to the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships to remind them of the importance of representing the communities they operate in, with more diverse boards and supporting all businesses in their area.

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) is leading by example, with several key positions already filled by women.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Reaching our target of 25 per cent women on FTSE 100 boards by 2015 is now in sight. The government is committed to ensuring that talented women have the tools at hand whether it’s running a business on their own or heading up a corporate board.

“The evidence is clear – gender diversity delivers better business decisions which are vital to securing the future prosperity of the UK.”

Lorely Burt said: “Women entrepreneurs have huge potential to build on Britain’s hard-won recovery, creating a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“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.”

What do you think can be done to cut the gender gap? Do you think opportunities for women have increased in recent years? Let us know!