Women in Business: What can we do?

Women in Business: What can we do?

On this gorgeous Wednesday, the WISP team are lucky enough to be heading to Whitehall. We’ve been invited by the National Black Women’s Network (founded by the excellent Sonia Brown MBE) to help the Women’s Business Council decide how best to support women in business.

Hold up. So what is the Women’s Business Council exactly?

It was set up in 2012 with the aim of helping the government understand how ‘women’s contribution to growth can be optimised’. Which means it wants to strengthen the economy by encouraging more women to work.

Their main gripe is with the fact that although girls outperform boys at all levels of education, this doesn’t translate to the workforce. In fact, there are more than 2.4 million women who want to work but aren’t doing so… and women are half as likely as men to become entrepreneurs (tell that to our founder, Edwina Dunn!).

So what can be done to bridge the gap? Well, their June 2013 report suggests better careers advice (as our ambassador Athene Donald suggested recently in the Guardian), better information and resources, more emphasis on work experience and more support of girls going in to STEM careers (very relevant to our recent #WISPchat!)

The report goes on to talk about later stages of a woman’s career, especially the post-childbirth phase. About one third of women who return to working after having had children experience a slide in status – and this is one of the reasons why there are so few female senior executives. If this is solved – through better childcare, more emphasis on flexible working and better talent management – we could all benefit from the consequent boost to the economy.

According to the report, there’s plenty more room for improvement, too. Our workforce is ageing, and if we’re flexible to this generational shift, there are plenty of economic advantages.

And finally, enterprise. This is one that we’re particularly interested in, because it’s what today’s meeting is all about. Only 19% of SME (small- and medium-sized enterprises) are majority led by women, compared to 49% entirely led by men. To combat this divide, the Women’s Business Council suggests more emphasis on enterprise in education, more financial guidance, more tailored advice and – our personal favourite – more available role models.

We’re all about the role model at What I See, and we’ve got the Features series to prove it. So we’re really excited about this afternoon. As the report states, more women in business is an advantage, not a burden: ‘The UK will not be able to meet its potential unless we use the talents, skills and experience of all.’

Source - Women's Business Council Report

Image source - still from WBC infographic film


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