Today is International Women’s Day and we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on the current climate of female entrepreneurs across the UK and tell you how we plan to ensure we deliver change within our community.

According to a paper released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in November last year*, just 4.7% of women, compared to 9.5% of men, were engaged in ‘early stage entrepreneurial activity’ – the owning or running of any business that is less than 3 ½ years old.

 

“Little has been done to hold key stakeholders in the UK’s start-up ecosystem accountable for the number of women involved in entrepreneurship”

 

On top of this, only 20% of SMEs in the UK are majority-led by women. This percentage varies massively between industries with only 7% of businesses in the manufacturing sector being led by women compared to nearly 43% of SMEs in the combined public administration, education, health and defence sector.

Though targets have been set, and subsequently met, for female representation on the boards of FTSE100 companies, little has been done to hold key stakeholders in the UK’s start-up ecosystem accountable for the number of women involved in entrepreneurship.

 

We’re changing that.

 

With a belief that we can and should go further than just keeping up with national trends, we are now committed to gaining and maintaining a 50/50 split between genders amongst our pre-start and early-stage members (i.e. those who join YENA before they have officially started their business or are less than one year old) by 8th March 2018. Additionally, we are also committed to ensuring that there is a gender balance amongst the founders who speak at each of our monthly networking events across the UK.

 

Our commitments for 8th March 2018:

  1. Focus on a more even split between genders amongst our pre-start and early-stage members
  2. Focus on gender balance amongst all founders who speak at our monthly networking events

 

In the interest of transparency, currently 28.6% of our pre-start and early-stage members are female. Though we may be above the national average, we want to ensure that a gender balance across YENA’s network is an expectation rather than just an aspiration.

By recognising that International Women’s Day is part of a much larger movement, we are proud to stand by the commitments that we’ve made and hope that other organisations within our space will be willing to do the same.