In his second blog as Women’s Business Council (WBC) member of the month, Denis Woulfe tells us about the progress being made by the WBC in encouraging female enterprise.
The next few months promises to be a very busy time for the WBC and I am very much looking forward to getting involved with its work. In the run up to Enterprise Week (17-23 November) much of our focus and a particular interest of mine will be on what more we can do to encourage female entrepreneurship. Here in the UK, in the last few years we have seen an upward trajectory of women setting up their own business. However, there is much more we need to do to ensure we untap women’s entrepreneurialism and there is a strong case for providing more support for women who want to set up and run their own business. We know, for example that if women were setting up and running their own businesses at the same rate as men, we could have an extra one million entrepreneurs. Imagine what that would do for our economy!
I was extremely pleased to hear that the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Department for Business Skills and Innovation (BIS) hosted a focus group over the summer inviting female entrepreneurs to give their feedback on the government’s new women in enterprise web page. The web page came about as a result of the WBC’s recommendations that government should improve their web-based support for female entrepreneurs. Despite the fact that women prefer accessing Government websites for support, female entrepreneurs were consistently telling us that the government’s web provision was simply not resonating with them. If we are to see an improvement in this area, it is essential to recognise that the support female entrepreneurs require and how we target our messages may be different to that for male entrepreneurs. The new web page is a vast improvement – it contains essential information and case studies tailored to a female audience and is a critical step forward in ensuring women get the information they need to start and grow their businesses. Nevertheless, it is work in progress and some really interesting feedback came out of the meeting. BIS are now using those discussions to consider how they can make further improvements to the page. Lorely Burt MP, newly Government appointed ambassador (champion) for female enterprise attended the focus group. She will use the discussions to help inform her work and will be reporting her findings back to the Business Secretary, Vince Cable later this year. The WBC were pleased Lorely Burt MP was able to attend the WBC meeting in September.
Last month, Wendy Hallett, Founder and Managing Director of Hallett Retail met with European counterparts to share best practise on encouraging female entrepreneurialism. Although, the UK does better than Germany and France, we still have a lot to learn from other countries, particularly some of the newer member states who excel in this field. We also have an exciting mentoring event coming up in November, at the BT Tower hosted by my fellow newcomer to the WBC, Emer Timmons, President of BT Global Services – and I hope to personally be doing some more detailed work with the Government in this area. Watch this space…