The COVID pandemic has served as a catalyst in widening the inequalities that underrepresented groups face in the UK’s business ecosystem – according to new research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), gender pay parity is at its lowest since their index was incepted. This reduction in the gender pay gap comes from women taking on disproportionate responsibilities of care for family members and children. British women’s high representation in sectors that were locked down and hard hit during the pandemic has meant that gender pay parity has been pushed back to 132 years, according to the WEF. In light of this, QU – a business consultancy for female and ethnic minority founded businesses – has commissioned new national research which found 27% of women in business receive much lower mentorship during their career due to a lack of representation in senior management roles with 18% of British women stating they left their sector due to this.
QU commissioned the unique study to better understand the lack of support networks that hinder women in businesses to successfully reach senior roles. The research found that a staggering 19% of British women don’t have support from their families to carry out their business endeavours with a striking 21% of British women stating they felt like an outcast from their family and community for having different career aspirations, indicating a critical lack of support and mentorship.
- 27% of British women state they have no support role whom they feel comfortable to take guidance from
- 19% of British women agreed that their family do not support their entrepreneurial business endeavours
- 21% of British women state they’ve always felt like an outcast in their family and community for having different career aspirations to their families and the wider community
- 31% of British women state they don’t know where to source investment opportunities to grow their business
- 25% of British women feel they’re taken less seriously as a business leader
- 19% of British women said that due to a lack of diversity in the higher ranks of their business they never saw a future in it, so they left that sector.
To address the disparities faced by female founded businesses, the recent Rose Review Progress Report has brought into effect the foundation of the Taskforce on Women-Led High-Growth Enterprises. The government backed initiative aims to help women in business by providing the tools to grow in their organisations as well as provide female entrepreneurs with access to finance and growth capital, increased technological adoption, and improved leadership skills. According to the report, if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, up to £250bn of new value could be added to the UK economy.
Marla Ubhi – co-founder of QU – argues that while a taskforce is a leap towards creating a more inclusive business ecosystem, gender inequality in the UK business arena remains rife, according to the government’s equalities office only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is a woman – the gender gap is equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses, and male-led SMEs are five times more likely to scale up to £1 million turnover than female-led SMEs. QU’s data indicates that by applying a holistic approach which addresses the different social factors which hinder women in business from progressing and entrepreneurs from scaling, as well as reducing financial barriers, will help the UK reach their gender equality objectives much faster.
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