Are you ready? The spotlight is on you. Because you look like a leader, a business founder and a superstar.

Women are now a third of FTSE100 Directors. That also means that two-thirds of Directors are men so it’s not exactly equal. Almost a fifth of FTSE 100 boards have no Directors from ethnic minorities. And there’s no reliable data on people with disabilities in Director roles in FTSE listed companies.

When it comes to business founders, all research shows that business are most likely to be founded, and funded by white males, in their forties, who live in the South East. No surprises there, right?

We’ve heard all of this, we’ve lived it. Well, that was then. This is now.

Yes, the times are changing

We know that having diverse, inclusive teams means higher productivity, profits, creativity and innovation. There has been data and research around this for a long time, but that hasn’t changed things. We see incremental changes but not significant ones.  

Only one in three entrepreneurs are female. So, there’s a gender gap in the economy. In fact, advancing female entrepreneurship is a £250 billion opportunity for the UK economy. Although the pandemic has set back gender equality for women in the workplace, there were record numbers of new businesses started last year. And many of those were started by women. In fact, self-employed women are the majority of the newly self-employed. Since the 2008 downturn 58% of the newly self-employed have been female, and it’s growing.

Times of disruption often inspire innovation and change. There are people who lost their jobs who decided to start new businesses. There are people who realised there’s more to life than commuting who did the same. And there are many women who started to reimagine how they work outside of traditional structures, and thought about new ways of working instead. For themselves.

The odds are stacked against women. We know that. Women start businesses with less access to funding and capital.  Life is tougher, and requires more determination and resourcefulness to succeed. We are seeing things slowly changing though. With programs run by banks, investment organisations, and other organisations. And the many female founders networks which have grown during the last year.

Re-write those rules

What this means is that there is a shift, a very slow shift. Business life is changing. Roles which were not perceived to be remote working roles, changed overnight. And people who never saw themselves as business founders realised that perhaps that’s who they are.

There’s still a long way to go and it’s going to be hard work to drive those changes and make them stick. We are re-writing the rules about who looks like a leader, who looks like a business founder….and you know what, that spotlight is on you.

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