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Women in Power: The impact women in the UK have had on the business world through their success

Women in power header image

If you were asked to write down as many men in a position of power as you can think of, the list would most likely be pretty long. But what if you were asked to think of as many women in power?

It’s fair to say that women in positions of power are often overlooked for their male counterparts, with names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates usually being the front runners of most ‘entrepreneurial inspiration’ lists.

But with inspirational women excelling in their positions of power across the globe, we thought it was time to celebrate their accomplishments. We wanted to take a closer look at how women in the UK continue to shape the business world and the young women who look up to them.

To find out if women in the UK have found a way to break the glass ceiling, we analysed business statistics from the House of Commons data.

Firstly, we wanted to see what kind of business landscape women are currently navigating in the UK.

It’s clear that the UK is a thriving business centre, as the data shows that from 2019 to 2020, 112,700 businesses were launched in the private sector.

Analysing the data we also found that there has been a 72% increase in the number of businesses since the year 2000, that’s 2.5 million more businesses.

However, the number of businesses with no employees is on the rise, as more people want more control over their working life and are choosing to be self-employed.

We also wanted to find out exactly where in the UK most businesses have set up shop. The data showed us that London is home to the most businesses, as in 2020 there were 1,593 businesses per 10,000 residents.

In fact over a third of UK businesses are in London or the South East. This is compared to the North East where there are just 744 businesses per 10,000 residents.

However, it’s in Wales where the business progression is slowest, as the country saw a 6% fall in businesses between 2019 and 2020.

Graph Showing Business Statistics by Region

But which sector accounts for the majority of these businesses?

The data showed that in 2020 there were 4.5 million businesses in the service sector, which makes up three quarters of all businesses in the UK! In fact, overall the businesses in the service sector account for 79% of all employment and 71% of total turnover.

Businesses in retail account for over a third of UK turnover, followed by Manufacturing (14%) and Construction (8%).

Women in Business

So with so many people across the UK clearly harnessing their entrepreneurial powers and progressing their businesses, how much of a part do women play?

Well, it turns out that women-led small to medium businesses contribute around £85 billion to the economic output every year.

Analysing the data further, we found that in 2019, 15% of small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) were led by women. A further 24% were ‘equally led’, meaning the management team had an even split between women in and men.

However, these figures vary depending on the industry, as the data showed us in the more male dominated industries.

Of the businesses in the construction industry, only 6% of SME employers are led by women. This is closely followed by the Transportation and Storage sectors with 7%.

Despite this, in the education sector, 32% of SME employers are led by women, along with 29% of SME employers in the healthcare sector.

For some women looking to make their own mark on the business world, they decided to strike out on their own and follow the self employed route. In fact, 23% of SMEs with no employees are led by women, which is higher than the percentage of women led SMEs with employees.

Whilst it’s interesting to see how many women are leading the charge in the smaller businesses, we wanted to see how many are making big decisions for big companies too.

Analysing the data, we found that the proportion of women on FTSE100 boards has been increasing steadily since the late 1990s.

In fact in June 2019, 34.5% of FTSE100 directorships were occupied by women, and 31.9% FTSE250 directorships were held by women.

In another advancement to equality for women in the business world, there are now zero all-male boards in the FTSE100.

This is down from 21 in 2011, and the same trend can be seen elsewhere too. The number of all male boards in the FTSE250 has gone down from 152 to one since 2011.

Gender gap in new businesses

Whilst it’s clear that women in the UK are making serious steps towards achieving equality in the business world, how does the United Kingdom compare with other countries?

We decided to look at the ‘total early stage entrepreneurial activity’ (TEA) within the data. TEA includes the owning or running of any business that is less than three and a half years old.

We found that in 2019 to 2020, the TEA rate in the UK for men was 11.7% and 7% for women, making the TEA gap 4.7 percentage points.

This means that the UK ranks out 24 of the 50 other countries that were studied. This shows that the UK is not performing as well as other countries such as Germany who had a 3.3% gap and the US with just a 1.7% gap.

Perhaps the UK could learn something from the countries that ranked the highest. Saudi Arabia and Madagascar had a negative TEA gap, as they had a higher proportion of women involved in start-ups than the proportion of men.

It’s amazing to see that so many women have followed their dreams of being successful within the business world. They contribute huge amounts to their company’s profits, management and progression. But, they also contribute to something even more important…

Inspiring young women and little girls to follow in their footsteps is key to achieving true equality across the entire business world.

These powerful women have all achieved great things, whether that’s running a country, producing brand new tech or even being the best selling artist of all time. These success stories are what many of us turn to for inspiration today, reminding us that nothing can stop us from achieving whatever we want!

Some women who have inspired us over the years include the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki. As well as Jessica Tan, the co-CEO of one of China’s biggest insurance firms. We’ve even felt inspired by music artists, such as Rihanna. Not only did she top the charts for multiple years, she has also launched two highly successful beauty and lingerie brands.

These women are truly inspirational, and are a great example of women achieving great things in a male dominated industry.

More recently, women in power have been centre stage too, as their stories have been inspiring millions. Such as New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and America’s new Vice President, Kamala Harris.

Commenting on female progress in the business world, Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny said: “As a business that was founded by a sister and brother team and with 1,000 employees who are largely women, we are not surprised to see that gender is no barrier to business success and it is hugely encouraging that there are more women on the boards of successful corporations and more women launching their own businesses. It will definitely be interesting to see the proportion of women in power over the coming years.”

Joanna continues: “However, more needs to be done to ensure an increasing proportion of women in senior positions in certain traditionally male-dominated industries. Businesses in these sectors need to make sure they welcome and encourage female career progression, but equally women need to be encouraged to enter these industries in the first place and to feel that there is a clear career path for them.”

With so many women in business excelling, it’s great to see that they’re also inspiring so many people to follow in their footsteps. It will definitely be interesting to see which women in power will be at the top of the list by the end of 2021.

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