Women still face many inequalities in the UK and the gulf in business ownership is just one of the ways these injustices manifest themselves. Only 32.37% of small business owners in the UK are women, this is despite outnumbering men by 900,000. To write off such a disparity would ignore all the challenges that women face in the UK. Numerous factors dissuade women from entering the business world and many of them are attached to outdated concepts in the workplace.
Business ownership is not the only area women are underrepresented in. Women only make up 26% of small enterprise CEOs and an even smaller proportion for large enterprises at 16%. This disturbing stat reflects the attitude that many women face in the business world, they are rarely given the most pivotal and influential positions in the business.
Only one in ten recent CEO positions were filled by women, a development that Deborah Gilshan addresses ‘It is no longer credible that there are not enough women who have the leadership traits, talent and skill set to be the CEO of a global company.’
Who Run The World?
This inequality is due to women still being perceived by many as being unable to flourish in roles that require leadership and composure. This is despite the fact that research, conducted by Boston Consulting Group and MassChallenege finds that businesses created by women are more profitable than those started by men.
This favouritism towards men is also shown in women only making up 20% of quotes in business and finance sections of British publications. Clearly, many in the business world do not see the value that women add to the sector and instead elect to disregard their efforts and accomplishments in favour of following established trends of favouring men.
For start-ups and entrepreneurs funding is often the first step in establishing a business. However, in the UK only 9% of funding is funnelled to women-run businesses. This statistic shows that women do not only face discrimination, but also from institutions which are there to support and aid them financially. This gulf in funding is most likely a consequence of two-thirds of female business founders not being taken seriously while pitching ideas to investors.
Issues such as these are only exacerbated further when you consider how underrepresented women are in business social situations. For decades business deals were conducted on golf courses or in men’s drinking clubs, areas where women were traditionally excluded from. This outdated rhetoric is still alive in business practises today to some degree, and is reflected in how few women are employed in the sector compared to men. The gradual increase of the number of women in the sector will help battle this phenomenon, but it is being dealt with at a slow rate and will continue to prevail for years if further action is not taken.
Women also face difficulties in handling both family and work responsibilities. With 58% of unpaid caregivers being women they are more likely than men to have to juggle the responsibilities of both work and home. The issues in these situations do not come from the caregiving side, they are instead caused by businesswomen not being supported.
Having to leave a self-started business is stressful enough, let alone when you have to also ensure that other business owners see you as dedicated and focused. Penalising anyone in the business world for also having familial responsibilities disregards the important work-life balance many have to manage. It is the duty of everyone to call out these harmful cultural norms when they arise, only then can we normalise diversity and equality in the business world.
Fighting for Equality
The only way to battle these systemic injustices is to highlight the problem and to celebrate those who are striving to tackle the issues. At The Inclusion Post we seek to do so by spotlighting women who are paving the way for others throughout the business sector, as well as those who are fighting to ensure that institutions give women their fair shot.
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