29 April 2016 09:00
FSB to launch Women in Enterprise Taskforce
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is to create a taskforce dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs and business owners.
The FSB has examined the specific challenges faced by women-led businesses in a recent survey of 1,900 women business owners in the UK. The findings have been published in a new report, Women in Enterprise: The Untapped Potential, which makes recommendations for improving support, developing mentoring networks and increasing the diversity of business ambassadors.
While the report finds that women-led businesses face many of the same challenges that all small firms encounter - including cash flow problems (42%) and difficulty accessing finance (25%) - some issues are more acute for women business owners. These include: balancing work and family life (40%), achieving credibility for the business (37%) and a lack of confidence (22%). All of these factors, says the FSB, are limiting women's ability to start, run and grow their businesses.
Helen Walbey, FSB Diversity Policy Chair, said:
"Getting more women into business is critical for a dynamic and vibrant small business sector. That's why we need to work out what the barriers are for women and break them down one by one."
Women-led smaller businesses contribute over £75 billion to the UK economy but only 18% of firms are majority run by women, said Walbey.
"If women were to set up businesses and grow them at the same rate as men, we would see a huge boost to growth and prosperity in this country. In fact, the government estimates it could add £600 billion to the economy."
The report also found that 34% of women business owners say they have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. This was felt particularly in sectors that are traditionally male dominated - for example in construction where over half (54%) had experienced discrimination.
"More needs to be done to really empower women. Vocational education is one way to grow the next generation of women entrepreneurs, but they also need long-term business support to help them succeed and grow. Better advice and mentoring should be provided and Maternity Allowance for the self-employed should be brought in line with Statutory Maternity Pay."
The new taskforce will develop a series of regional events and networking opportunities as well as working with government to promote women's entrepreneurship.