Posted by Ella Price
5th March, 2019

Insights gender gap Insights gender gap

Achieving balance in business.

Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day shines a spotlight on the social, cultural, political and economic achievements of women across the world. It also promotes a call-to-action to accelerate gender equality globally. But this campaign is not confined to a single date in the calendar. In fact, this initiative spans the whole year, with 2019’s focus being #BalanceForBetter.

Feminism has taken many forms over the past century, from the suffragettes struggle for women’s votes to the Spice Girls’ fun and flirty feminism of the nineties. Now we are in a period where transparency is key, and people are publicly being held accountable for their actions. Women are empowered to speak up; they expect balance, and notice when it’s absent. #BalanceForBetter is based around the belief that gender equality is key for communities to thrive, and that striking this balance is not a women’s issue, but a shared responsibility.

In honour of International Women’s Day we’re taking a look at equality in business and celebrating the powerful female entrepreneurs making a positive impact in the feel-good space.

Bias in business

“Balance is not a women's issue, it’s a business issue.”

International Women’s Day

Men outnumber women in business, with female founders accounting for only a third of all entrepreneurs in the UK. Why? Recent research from Unilever Foundry uncovers the hidden gender barriers in startups and explores how we can call for better balance in business.

Figures show that 61% of the women surveyed in Unilever’s ‘Scaling up Diversity’ study don’t believe there are enough female role models in the industry. This apparent lack of representation or encouragement to enter roles outside the typical gender stereotypes affects both sexes’ perception and treatment in the workplace. Gender bias is also a top discriminating factor when applying for funding in business. For a female founder, securing investment can often mean being judged on the ability to balance professional and personal circumstances:

“Investors questioned me a lot more about whether I’d be able to manage a company on top of raising my two children, which isn’t something that men get asked about.”

‘Scaling up Diversity’ Unilever Foundry

Equality isn’t about denying the differences between sexes in the startup space. Instead, it’s the acknowledgement of these differences, and the collective effort to provide support where it’s needed. Initiatives like ‘The 30% Club’ and ‘Unilever Foundry’s partnership with UN Women’ are making positive steps towards bridging the gender gap, but as International Women’s Day stresses, change has to happen everywhere, at every level.

Surge in female start-ups

Despite the gender bias in business, the past decade has witnessed women shrink the UK “enterprise gap’ at an impressive rate. Men might still be twice as likely to start a business, but women are rising to the occasion, displaying a 45% growth in entrepreneurs between 2003–6 and 2013–16, compared to a 27% increase for men over the same period.

Gender stereotypes, pay disparity and lack of role models are being turned on their heads to motivate a wave of successful female founders. Biological differences in parenthood aren’t halting careers, but merely transforming the traditional 9–5 suit and tie role into a flexible, family-friendly alternative.

At Feel-Good Brands we want to celebrate the women taking matters into their own hands and becoming the change they want to see. Many of the brands featured on the Feel-Good Brands list are driven by women. This surge in female start-ups sparks a positive chain reaction, and provides powerful role models to pave the way for #BalanceForBetter in future generations.