March 1st marks the start of Women’s History Month. A month that aims to celebrate the contributions women have made in history and our current society. International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day are key dates within the month to shower the women in our lives with love and admiration. Many of us have learnt about the lives of historical women such as Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale, and Amelia Earhart. But, what about the women making waves now?
At UTP, we are proud to have female representation at every level of our company and within our senior leadership team. We celebrate the achievements of all our staff, regardless of gender, with hard work being met with opportunity. A dedicated month to celebrate the achievements of women socially, economically, culturally, and politically. March is a vital time to reflect on steps that we still need to take to achieve gender parity. Looking at the statistics of women in business in the UK, we are heading in the right direction. UK female representation in board rooms is second globally, only behind France, where a 40% board membership quota for women has been in place since 2017. Businesses, legislation, and government schemes are doing the work to encourage more women into the industry and the boardroom.
Give Women a Seat at the Table and Hear Their Voice
Value added to the economy from women being able and encouraged to start their businesses would be astronomical. Julie Baker, head of enterprise, climate engagement and partnerships at NatWest, addresses the benefit these businesses would make to the UK. Baker states, ‘If women were to open and scale businesses at the same rate as their male counterparts, it would add £250 billion to the UK economy’. A financial relief that our economy is desperate for amidst the current cost-of-living crisis. In 2019, Alison Rose, Chief Executive of NatWest Group, investigated the barriers women face compared to men when starting businesses. The response from the government was announcing a goal of increasing the number of female entrepreneurs by 50% by 2023. This would equate to an additional 600,000 female entrepreneurs.
We are setting new records in terms of women in business. Women lead 20% of new firms, which is a record high. Additionally, the representation of women on FTSE 350 public company boards has been improving yearly. Women now occupy 2 out of 5 board seats at FTSE 350 companies. Recently the proportion of women in board roles in the biggest listed companies in the UK has risen above 40% for the first time. As a society, we are moving in the right direction to ensure we are hearing women’s voices at every level in business. There are women within the business sector who are fighting to support women in business careers further and are advocating for the women who follow them into the business sphere. We’ve looked at a few examples of influential women leaving the business world better than they found it.
A tycoon within the finance sector, having 30 years of experience working with companies such as Lloyds Banking Group, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Allied Irish. Boden took her extensive knowledge and bridged a gap in the banking market to benefit consumers and small businesses. She subsequently founded Starling Bank in 2014, an online-only banking company. Thanks to her contributions to business, Boden was awarded an MBE for services to financial technology in 2018 and sat on the board of UK Finance.
She started as a banker, became an entrepreneur, and is now an early-stage tech investor. Angelides founded Mums in Tech to allow women to learn about coding. By making her coding school child-friendly, she has been able to teach over 250 women how to code in 3 years. Due to her contribution to women in technology, June was awarded an MBE and continues to educate through mentoring, notably at Oxford University.
A businesswoman known to many through her appearances on BBC’s The Apprentice, Brady has had a long career. She was appointed as the Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club at age 23. Now Brady is currently CEO of West Ham United Football Club, valued at £800,000,000. Brady’s contribution to business and her passion for promoting women in business has earned her many awards and titles. She was voted Business Woman of the Year and Ultimate Entrepreneur. A further achievement was being appointed the Government’s Business Ambassador by the Prime Minister in 2013. The same year, Brady received a CBE from the Queen for her services to business, entrepreneurship and women in business.
Rose shows what hard work and rising through the ranks can achieve. After joining NatWest as a graduate in 1992, she worked to the top and was appointed Chief Executive in 2019. Rose was the first woman to lead one of the UK’s big four banks, paving the way for women. Thanks to the Rose Review in March 2019, the government set the goal of 600,000 extra entrepreneurs by 2030.