Finance firms sign code in bid to support women-led start-ups
The initiative aims to close the gap between male and female entrepreneurs.
A host of major banks and venture capital firms have signed up for the Government’s latest initiative to boost funding for female entrepreneurs, the Treasury has said.
The financial institutions signed up on Tuesday to the Investing in Women Code, agreeing to a set of measures aimed at improving equality for small business founders including publishing gender funding data.
The banks putting their name to the plans are Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, TSB, Metro Bank, the Co-operative Bank and Bank of Ireland UK.
It’s shocking that only one in three entrepreneurs are women and I hope that today’s commitment signals a turning point in attitudes towards investing in female-led businesses Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick
They are joined by venture capital firms Frontline and Episode 1, angel networks UK Business Angel Association and Angel Academe, and institutional investor British Business Bank.
Speaking at the launch of the Investing in Women Code at a reception in Downing Street, the Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Breaking down gender barriers could add billions to the UK economy.
“I’m pleased to see so many of our major banks and venture capital firms support the code, and I call on others to follow suit.
“It’s shocking that only one in three entrepreneurs are women and I hope that today’s commitment signals a turning point in attitudes towards investing in female-led businesses.”
It follows the findings of a review led by NatWest’s deputy chief executive Alison Rose earlier this year which showed closing the gap between male and female entrepreneurs could add £250 billion to the UK’s economy.
Challenges facing female founders identified by the report include low access to capital, high risk awareness, disproportionate primary care responsibilities and a lack of relatable role models.
The reaction from industry and the commitment that so many leading institutions have already shown towards the code has been fantastic and encouraging, and this is just the beginning Alison Rose
Research commissioned by the Chancellor had previously revealed that female-led start-ups get just a penny for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK.
Signatories of the new Investing in Women Code pledge to nominate a senior leader to take responsibility for equality, as well as adopt internal practices that will improve access to funding and resources for women-led founder teams.
They will also publish data on funding granted to businesses, showing whether the founding teams are male, female or mixed.
Ms Rose said: “When we began this process, everyone involved was in agreement that raising awareness of the Rose Review’s findings is only one small part of what is needed; what we need is action.
“The reaction from industry and the commitment that so many leading institutions have already shown towards the code has been fantastic and encouraging, and this is just the beginning.”
Responding to the initiative, Rebecca Park, managing director of external affairs at trade association UK Finance, said the number of participants showed the sector’s determination support women entrepreneurs.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are foundations for success and inclusion in our economy and society, and it is important that everyone has the opportunity to contribute,” she said.
“Business diversity translates into UK economic growth which benefits us all. Today’s announcement demonstrates the finance sector’s commitment to promote and back female entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom.”