Note: The contents of this article are the author's opinion and have not been approved as a financial promotion.
Started well over a century ago, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day when the economic, cultural and political achievements of women are celebrated across the globe. Every year sees a different theme and this time it’s #ChooseToChallenge, which asks people to show their commitment to challenging inequality, calling out bias, questioning stereotypes, and helping to forge a more inclusive world.
The investment arena, and the financial services industry more widely, are well-known for being male-dominated on both sides of the table – in terms of those seeking investment (or other financial support) and those providing it. But it’s encouraging to see the progress now being made in terms of working towards equality for women, with clear signs that things are starting to change…
Not only has HM Treasury launched the Women in Finance Charter, which reflects the government’s aspiration to see gender-balance at all levels across the sector, but a recent ‘Women in Financial Services’ report from Oliver Wyman has found that the sector is indeed finally making progress on gender diversity in the workforce. Mindsets are shifting and, as a result of hard work and commitment, progress is beginning to be reflected in the numbers.
As for female investors, whilst women remain under-represented on investment platforms, companies reported ‘a rush of interest’ from this group in the last year, with women now signing up to investment platforms at faster rates than men.
There are increasing numbers of programmes and initiatives to support female entrepreneurs too, which have been added to today by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (UK’s top female entrepreneurs backed by government to fire up economy through innovation). It has announced it will be awarding some of the country’s top female innovators with a cash injection, alongside bespoke mentoring, to allow them to scale up and bring their disruptive business ideas to market, whilst simultaneously aiming to encourage a new generation of women to come forward and pursue their ambitions.
It’s worth noting, however, that despite this progress and the positive headlines we keep seeing, we’re unlikely to reach true gender parity in our lifetimes, according to the World Economic Forum, which predicts that there’s still a long way to go. In other words, as the IWD website puts it: ‘There’s urgent work to do – and we can all play a part in that’.
To mark IWD this year, we asked some of the women in our team to share some additional insights on the topic of female investors and entrepreneurs, as well as the issue of gender equality in our sector.
“I think it is extremely important to not only encourage women and other underrepresented groups to invest and to take control of their wealth-generation and achieve financial independence but also to create a community structure in which we are ensuring that the knowledge, networks and opportunities for investing are available to women and men equally in the first place.
I am delighted that this year I will be teaching a course at Andy Ayim’s Angel Investing School in May, which is designed to democratise access to education on investing in early-stage businesses.
As a former finalist in the 'Rising Star of the Year' category at the Women in Finance Awards, I learned that, although the financial sector is still undoubtedly male-dominated, there is an incredible network of impressive female professionals working in the sector across the UK, which we should utilise in order to learn from one another, build each other up and carve out ways to pass on our knowledge to aspiring female investors and entrepreneurs.”
“The finance industry is often a male-dominated world that I #ChooseToChallenge. If you are starting out in this industry it can be daunting, but if you find your voice, let your ideas be heard and have confidence in your abilities, you can succeed.
Throughout my career I have often worked in mainly-male teams, but this has now changed. At Growthdeck, the team I work in – our Business Development team – is predominately female, which is often unexpected in this industry, and this both inspires and motivates me. I challenge more companies to make the change and for more men and women to challenge their employers on gender parity in the workplace. Only then will we see wider change.
For all the women out there, I will leave you with this quote from Maya Angelou: ‘I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.’ “
“Here at Growthdeck we have successfully raised funds for many young, growing businesses from all sectors and leaderships. It is a male dominated start-up and investment arena, however what is wonderful to see is the increase in the number of female founders.
I have participated in a number of female entrepreneur networks, which are enabling women to impart wisdom and offer advice, free from bias and judgement. These groups will no doubt contribute to this increasing number of female-led businesses and help to harness untapped female talent.
Talking of talent, we are currently working with Karen Kirk of Kirk & Kirk, creators of designer eyewear, and Kate Meeks of Your Favourite Teacher, the online teaching platform. Both incredibly passionate founders, full of creativity and energy.
Karen is leading with her creative direction, responsible for the unique design of Kirk & Kirk’s ranges of glasses and sunglasses, worn by the likes of Elton John, Robbie Williams, Julia Roberts, U2, Oasis and Stevie Wonder, amongst others. Kate founded Your Favourite Teacher on the back of many years teaching at a tough secondary school with disadvantaged students and realising the positive impact technology can have on students.
Two of the many very strong, successful women who are making their mark in this investment world. It's exciting to be part of the team helping them!”
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