Striving for gender equality is a path to a better society

This year’s IWD is themed “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” and will focus on how to further empower women through technological change and education.

This topic is also the focus of the recently published Pathways: A New Approach to Women in Entrepreneurship Report co-authored by successful entrepreneur Ana Stewart and Scotland’s Chief Entrepreneur Mark Logan. I was honored to contribute to this bold report that challenges the status quo by attracting more women to the world of entrepreneurship and helping them scale their businesses on a global scale.

The Pathways report contains important findings and recommendations aimed at addressing the current injustices caused by the significant under-representation of women entrepreneurs. Currently, only one in five businesses in Scotland is run by a woman. Even more worrisome, only 2% of institutional investment currently goes to women-led businesses. This level of under-participation and lack of financial accessibility is not only unacceptable but also economically damaging.

The report’s recommendations for tackling these chronic issues include a sensible, decentralized approach to bringing start-up incubation, training and support to remote communities and the currently most underrepresented female groups in society.

Continue reading: Female pioneers can help deal with prejudice in business

The Scottish Government must embrace all of these recommendations, both the quicker policy fixes and the deeper, underlying causes. This includes a stronger focus on female entrepreneurship in the education system and in other areas of society; Assisting in combating the unconscious bias that discourages many women from pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities and is detrimental to growth opportunities for the minority who start their own businesses.

As we encourage more women to become entrepreneurs, it is also critical that we significantly increase support on the path to growth, scale and investment where the greatest decline in female founders is currently occurring. Investing in Women Angels has significantly increased the number of female investors in Scotland, resulting in a sixfold increase in the percentage of Angels investing in women-owned companies. We are therefore excited about the recommended Journey Fund, which will help support and accelerate more investment in women founders.

To ensure far more women-led companies scale internationally, we must also build on the work of groups like AccelerateHER, which provide women founders with access to global investment and market-building links through international trade missions and foreign mentors. CodeBase’s work is also critical to attracting more female entrepreneurs to the technology and helping them scale. These activities are key elements in Scotland’s economic growth.

With the support of the Scottish Government and many other organisations, we must embrace the Pathways report’s recommendations and address the core issues that are still preventing more women-led businesses from thriving. Pursuing this approach will not only help create a fairer society, but will also bring economic prosperity across Scotland to the benefit of all in our society.

Jackie Waring is the founder of Investing Women Angels and Chair of sister company AccelerateHER Striving for gender equality is a path to a better society

Adam Bradshaw

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