Alison Rose Report & The Elephant in The Room

Female Entrepreneurs

Did you know that only one third of entrepreneurs are women?

“The UK is the start-up capital of Europe, attracting more venture capital than any other European country, yet only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female. In comparison with 15% of women in Canada, almost 11% of women in the US, and over 9% of women in Australia and the Netherlands, only 5.6% of UK women run their own companies” NatWest 2019

In recent months a huge spotlight has been shone on the disparities faced by women in employment and on the gender pay gap, showing that there is a huge way to go towards a balanced boardroom.

Research carried out by McKinsey & Co has shown that companies with the greatest gender diversity on their executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform peers on profitability and 27% more likely to create superior value.

In a bid to see the UK lead the way in boosting female entrepreneurship, encourage opportunity and boost the economy, Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, asked Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at the Royal Bank of Scotland and one of the country’s leading businesswomen, to undertake a review of the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs in September 2018.

The results from Rose’s report were published to coincide with International Women’s Day in March 2019 and have revealed that female entrepreneurs are underrepresented in high-value sectors including manufacturing, IT and communications, and financial services.

The key barriers to encouraging female entrepreneurs were discovered to fall in three main areas:

  • Availability of funding for female entrepreneurs when compared to male counterparts

  • Family care responsibilities

  • Lack of accessibility, mentoring and valuable networks


Key Findings:

Whilst the report has uncovered a wealth of shocking facts and statistics surrounding female entrepreneurship, below are just a selection of key findings:

  • It is believed that advancing female entrepreneurship represents a £250 billion opportunity for the UK economy, the equivalent of 4 years of economic growth.

  • Approximately 33% of UK women choose to become entrepreneurs, than in best practice peer countries where it averages at approx. 40%+

  • Looking across the entrepreneurial journey, UK women are less likely to go from intention to starting a business and half as likely to scale their businesses

  • Male SMEs are five times more likely to scale up to £1 million turnover than female SMEs

  • For every 10 male UK entrepreneurs, there are fewer than five female entrepreneurs

  • Less than 1% of UK venture funding goes to all-female teams and just 4% of deals


Roses’ Recommendations:

Rural and urban locations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were researched with the review setting out recommendations on how best to overcome the main barriers to enabling female entrepreneurship.

It was discovered that the three most significant opportunities to help more women succeed as entrepreneurs were:

  1. Increase funding directed towards female entrepreneurs

  2. Provide greater family care support for female entrepreneurs

  3. Make entrepreneurship more accessible for women and increasing support locally, through relateable and accessible mentors and networks.

As a result, this Review has prompted a new government target of encouraging 600,000 new female entrepreneurs by 2030 which they hope will contribute £250bn of new value to the UK economy, and whilst this is a fantastic step in the right direction, can we say that it will be enough to help female entrepreneurs get where they need to go?


And That Elephant in The Room!

What is not addressed by the report is the difference in perceptions towards female leaders, and indeed the different set of ‘confidence’ issues that are often experienced as a result.

“Women have to prove themselves more than men. A McKinsey study says men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted on accomplishments.”  Business Insider

And, often, as a result:

“Successful women are more likely to feel like "impostors" who will be found out.”

 Business Insider

Although imposter syndrome is not something that is exclusively reserved for the woman in business, it is certainly as issue that impacts us more than men:

“A survey of over 3000 adults in the UK shows over two-thirds of women (66%) have suffered from imposter syndrome compared to over half of men (56%) within the last 12 months.” HR News, 2019

Which does raise the question: are women more likely to experience feeling inadequate in the workplace and is this likely to hold women back?

Imposter syndrome is thought to severely impact career progression and cause negativity within the workplace with research showing that the top four causes of this endemic problem thought to be:

38% – Self-generated self-doubt
23% – Being criticised
20% – Having to ask for help
16% – Self-comparisons to high achieving colleagues

HR News 2019

These key findings identify that confidence, collaboration and perceived competency are all major barriers to women in the workplace.

Whilst this is something that may take a little more time and effort on all our parts to overcome it is certainly not insurmountable, and there are many tools, such as my ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’Efactor’ and ‘Leadership and Management’ workshops which are available to teams and individuals which can help work towards achieving the newest Government targets set towards increasing female entrepreneurship and in ensuring that the female voice is heard in the boardroom, because, after all:

"A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman." Melinda Gates


Alison Rose Report: Click here

Government Response: Click here

Fiona Bradley