International Women’s Day – making the balance better

With today being International Women’s Day, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the progress society and business have made in diversity and gender equality. 

This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, seeking a more representative gender balance in all aspects of life from government to media coverage to business.

This theme resonates with me. I’ve written previously about the importance of achieving a positive workplace culture, and this includes getting the gender balance right. But how can we achieve this if there is still such a long way to go in women having the same opportunities as men in business? Can it still be true that fewer women than men are thriving as entrepreneurs?

Starting a business: problems with accessing funding 

Last month, The Telegraph reported that in 2018 female founders of start ups secured only 1p in every £1 of funding from the venture capital sector, amounting to just £118 million. These findings were backed up in a report by the British Business Bank.

This seems counter-intuitive when a third of businesses are started by women, and the success rate of female-led businesses is high. In this day and age, what is stopping talented women from gaining access to investment funds and progressing their business?

Despite the huge potential of women entrepreneurs, many are intimidated by the male-dominated nature of investment, where male investors are attracted to their own reflection and women sometimes lack the confidence to push their ideas forward.

A change is long overdue and there are practical measures to make setting up a small business – and all aspects of society – more women-friendly. It just takes a little imagination.

Breaking the glass ceiling 

Men and women working together to truly achieve a gender balance can start to redress this. 

A recent article by the Boston Consulting Group says the key to shattering the glass ceiling is involving men, particularly younger men.

The article suggests a whole raft of ideas to help redress the gender balance including involving men in diversity programmes, making it clear that flexible working policies are for both men and women, and providing a support network for employees with children. Additionally, being vocal about these strategies will make any company more attractive to both genders, leading to success.

Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day with this in mind – making the issue of gender balance relevant to both men and women is the way forward in creating the sort of world (at home and at work) that we all want to live in, where the contribution of both genders is equally valued.

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