Today is international women’s day, so we’re taking the opportunity to look at women in the workplace. Though the UK has made strides towards more equality at work, there’s still a long way to go.
In the UK, women still only make up around 15% of FTSE 100 directors. The government’s voluntary ‘1 in 4’ target for businesses seems unlikely to make many inroads.
There’s no perfect solution to this. Enforced quotas are not the best way to see people promoted on merit. Big employers have been found to be, even subconsciously, less likely to promote or employ women who are likely to have children – though this remains of questionable legality, it’s still occurring across UK big business.
If big businesses are neglecting effectively half the talent pool, then they are limiting the quality of their staff. Though of course there are many women within high level roles, it still remains true that there are considerably less women than men.
The picture for SMEs is more optimistic. The number of women setting up their own business rose by 11% in 2011. Almost a third of all small businesses are owned by women, with female entrepreneurs making up nearly 10% of the UK working population.
Many women have been motivated to set up their own business to gain more financial independence. An online survey commissioned for international women’s day showed this as a key motivator for over a third of women with their own business.
The biggest challenges that female SME owners say they encounter are managing their books and cash flow, common problems for any SMEs. Given that the main motivation for starting your own business is the increased flexibility, it makes sense to maintain this.
Factoring and invoice discounting are ways that could benefit any SME’s cash flow.
At Select Factoring we’re always keen to see a more equal workplace, and an increasing diverse set of UK SMEs is something to be excited about.