I was privileged to attend the CMS equIP #LeadHers event last night to support female entrepreneurs. The night featured a really interesting discussion around the challenges women-led businesses face and how we can collectively encourage more diversity. 

The speakers included:

  • Jenny Tooth, Angel investor and CEO of UKBusiness Angel Association (UKBAA)
  • Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, CEO of fintech Akoni Hub, and recent winner of Woman of the Year at Everywoman in Tech Awards
  • Caroline Hughes, Serial Tech Enterpreneur, Co-founder of Lifetise
  • Emma Sinclair MBE, Serial Tech Enterpreneur, co-founder of EnterpriseAlumni, Youngest in world to IPO
  • Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise and Community Finance at Natwest & RBS
  • Jon Lerner, Managing Director, Smedvig Capital

Here are a few of my key takeaways from the evening: 

Funding There is a disproportionate amount of funding for female led businesses compared to male led businesses - women get far less. There is a much smaller pipeline of women coming forward and asking for money and they often ask for much less than men. Women often feel less able to ask for money because of the less welcoming environment. 

Investing Women don’t get told about the opportunities in investing and if we think of women as risky investors they’ll never be told about these opportunities. 

Diversity We need to not only build diversity but also visibly display diversity so that it becomes more normalised. If you build diversity with huge amounts of intent, you will end up finding incredible talent and building much more effective teams. 

Role Models One of the major barriers female-led businesses face is the access to role models. This is getting better but there needs to be more support for female-led businesses.  Events like LeadHers help.

What Next? We should not be asking "what more can females do to change all this?" Instead we need to look at the barriers and gatekeepers to women's success.  There is enourmous opportunities being missed - do not blame the women change the way investment happens at all levels to make it more equitable.

Finally I wanted to share this quote by Caroline Hughes 

"Build diversity with huge amounts of intent"