A prominent British insurance provider for small businesses has a new initiative to support female entrepreneurs in honour of International Women’s Day.
Launched by Simply Business, the ‘Empowering Women in Business initiative’ will help female entrepreneurs battle sexism and gender bias in business and improve their skills and confidence.
As part of the initiative, one female entrepreneur stands to win an exclusive hour-long one-on-one mentoring session with British business figure and ‘The Apprentice’ star Karren Brady CBE.
Female business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can also sign up for a free webinar by Simply Business, which will feature a talk from Brady on 17 March.
There, attendees can expect to hear about the barriers facing women in business, first-hand experience from inspiring business leaders, and the need for more inclusive companies.
The initiative launches in response to recent research from Simply Business that found one in three (32%) female entrepreneurs have experienced sexism as a business owner. In comparison, one in five (19%) have also experienced gender inequality and unequal access to opportunities.
The research also found that 91% of female entrepreneurs say gender bias and inequality is common in business, with a third (33%) describing it as “widespread” or “severe.”
Over a third of research respondents (38%) called for more one-to-one mentorship from a business expert and further support and advice with funding (37%) to combat the current inequality.
Some 33% also called for more tips and advice from female leaders in their sector, and 41% of female business owners called for more networking opportunities with other women business owners.
The illuminating responses from women in business don’t stop there; 22% of female entrepreneurs have also faced investors, colleagues, or customers making “assumptions” about them or underestimating them compared to men. Another 20% don’t feel they’re taken seriously compared to men in their sector, while 15% don’t feel they have a loud enough voice.
16% state they’re not taken as seriously when pitching their business, and 8% don’t have access to the same networks or mentors as men. The result of these worrying findings is that some 25% of female entrepreneurs, a quarter, are struggling with business confidence.
Nearly half (45%) of female entrepreneurs feel more people need to call out gender bias or inequality in the business ecosystem, while 43% call for greater education on the issue for all people in business. Some 39% say unconscious gender bias training throughout all businesses is needed, alongside more equal benefits such as equal maternity and paternity pay to help women succeed.
While the research reveals many concerns among female entrepreneurs in business, there are some positives. A majority of female entrepreneurs (96%) said they would recommend starting a business to other women, with 32% calling the experience “rewarding.” There is also confidence among female entrepreneurs about future business success, with 92% remaining confident about the next 12 months.
Baroness Karren Brady CBE, ambassador for Simply Business, said: “The level of gender bias and inequality within the business, particularly within the small business landscape, is astounding. Sexism and bias, whether conscious or unconscious, will erode confidence over time and lead to unequal opportunities. It’s vital we challenge sexism and bias and equip female entrepreneurs with the tools, access and confidence to overcome these obstacles. We need to inspire women into business, not bring them down.
“We need to harness the talents, ambitions and drive of women at any business, big or small. I’m proud to partner with Simply Business to shine a light on sexism and bias in business – it’s an ongoing challenge we need to resolve. Supporting and mentoring one female entrepreneur, and giving them the skills and tools they need to flourish, is a positive step forward in this journey.”
Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, added: “International Women’s Day provides a hugely important moment of recognition for women all around the world. Here at Simply Business, we’re proud to support many thousands of thriving small businesses across the UK run by women.
“By partnering with Baroness Karren Brady CBE – a formidable businesswoman with a fascinating story and a wealth of insights to share – we’re hoping countless more female entrepreneurs will be inspired to follow their big dream and become their own boss.
“Small businesses are crucial to the UK economy and will prove pivotal to our economic recovery from the pandemic. We’re thrilled to offer one female business owner the opportunity to receive an exclusive, one-on-one mentoring session with Karren, as well as many others to join the webinar with her.
“We know a hugely positive impact awaits, with Karren helping to support and guide lucky entrepreneurs through the next phase of their business journey.”
Small business owners have until 31 March 2022 to sign up for the chance to win a one-hour long one-on-one mentoring session with Karren Brady here. More information about Simply Business can be found here, and the link to sign up for the free webinar is provided again here.