Barclays report addresses obstacles facing women in business
In a new report launched by Barclays, the bank has addressed the gender imbalance facing women in UK business – and how society can foster an inclusive environment that is open to all.
An environment that encourages women to start and scale businesses at the same rate as men could “add nearly £250bn to the UK economy”, according to a report published today by Barclays (PDF 4.6MB).
‘Here and Now: Making Britain the Best Place in the World for Female Founders’ assesses the challenges currently facing businesswomen in the UK – and will launch at the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards in London this evening.
Juliet Rogan, Barclays’ Head of High Growth and Entrepreneurs, says: “With the trust of 24 million customers and nearly one million businesses, inclusive UK economic growth is essential for our success.
“An important part of that is helping to make the UK the best place for a woman to start and scale a business. As this report shows, there are reasons to feel optimistic that we can do this sooner rather than later.”
One such support network is the Female Founders Forum, a regular collaboration event hosted in partnership by Barclays and The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN). As part of the collaboration, Barclays connects some of the UK’s most ambitious female founders to network, inspire and support one another. Previous forums have included a ‘speed networking’ event in London and a roundtable on leadership styles in Edinburgh.
Annabel Denham, Head of the Female Founders Forum, says: “With the support of Barclays, the Female Founders Forum works tirelessly to support female-led start and scale-ups. We shine a spotlight on their achievements across many sectors. We are grateful to the members of this illustrious group, and to all attendees of the events we hold across the country to share ideas, knowledge and experience.”
“The right education has never been more important”
“There are millions of women across the nation with the energy and ideas to drive us all forward,” says Elizabeth Truss MP, Minister for Women and Equalities and Secretary of State for International Trade. “We need to do more to pull down the barriers, whether cultural or financial, that are stopping them from starting businesses.”
According to the report, one solution to these barriers is to instil “financial literacy and self-belief” in girls from school age, so that they are well equipped to drive the future UK economy.
Rogan says: “Instil girls with the right skills, and they are more likely to see themselves as both entrepreneurs and leaders in business.”
Truss agrees: “I’m a champion of girls studying maths, traditionally a subject where girls were perceived as less able than boys. While we’ve made progress, female-founders are still less likely to start tech and IP-based businesses when compared to their male counterparts.”
The report states that “the right education has never been more important”, and that it is the government’s responsibility to encourage more young women to study STEM subjects such as coding and computational thinking.
Tips from the top
Discussing entrepreneurship in the report, Tugce Bulut, Founder and CEO of AI market research company Streetbees, encourages founders to “work with people who are gender neutral”.
It’s sound advice from the entrepreneur whose company has been listed as one of the UK’s Top 100 fastest-growing firms: “There is no such thing as male or female entrepreneurs,” Bulut explains. “There are just entrepreneurs – and surrounding yourself with others who share this attitude is the best way to build a strong, respectful team.”
For Alexandra Daly, CEO and Founder of financial investment company AA Advisors, there is little more valuable in business than mentorship – something she currently has five of. She explains: “I talk to these professionals about the nitty gritty. Is their ground base secure? Because without it they will struggle to achieve their goals”
She also says that “never before has there been a better time to be a female entrepreneur”, a sentiment echoed by Tania Boler, CEO and Founder of female tech manufacturer Elvie.
Tania’s company, recently listed as one of the UK’s Top 100 fastest-growing businesses and named by Business Insider as one of the 15 most impressive startups in Europe, offers technological solutions to formerly-taboo female health issues.
“The investor community,” Tania says, “has finally woken up to the potential of ‘femtech’”.