Good morning and thank you all for joining us at the launch of the Rose Review into female entrepreneurship. I’m Annabel Denham, I work at The Entrepreneurs Network, a think tank for entrepreneurs. We bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and politicians, and try to change policy to make it more favourable Britain’s start-ups and scale-ups.
In my role there, I do a lot of writing and research around female entrepreneurship and women in leadership more broadly, and as a result am thrilled to have been invited here to this great city and speak in front of not only a very distinguished panel but also an audience filled with inspirational female founders.
The launch couldn’t have come at a more apt time, for today is International Women’s Day. For those of you who don’t know, this day has been marked for around 100 years now, though many would lament that it has yet to achieve its original goal of equality for women around the world.
Here in Britain, we have come leaps and bounds since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919. It is not uncommon for women today to have careers after children. The gender pay gap is narrowing. Women represent over half the workforce in many spheres – from medicine to marketing.
But one area that hasn’t kept up with the pace of change is entrepreneurship. The Rose Review has highlighted some alarming statistics: that just a third of businesses are run by women, that companies with male teams are five times more like to reach 1m turnover and will attract around 90% of VC investment.
To many of you here, this will sound all too familiar. Perhaps you’ve gone along to an investment meeting and not only been the sole woman at that meeting, you’ve been the first female entrepreneur that the investment committee has ever come across. Perhaps you’ve struggled to access networks because you don’t play golf or use the men’s room. Perhaps being told to lean-in sounds good, but goes against your gut instincts.
The Rose Review is important for three reasons. First, it is a joint report between the private sector and government, and draws on first-hand experiences from entrepreneurs across the nation. Second, it offers tangible recommendations not just to policymakers but also schools, the investment sphere and other private sector actors. These calls to action do more than pay lip service. Third, while it brings to light some worrying statistics, it is also hugely inspirational.
Policy change doesn’t happen overnight, and societal changes take far longer. But thanks to reports like the Rose Review raising awareness, and with countless women up and down the country already running exciting, fast-growth businesses and inspiring the next generation of girls, we’re well on the way.