Call for ending the gender pay gap and better funding of business support for women

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A Liverpool women’s social enterprise calls for urgent government action to address worsening pay inequalities and the funding gap for business support.

The women’s organization says the government’s “Rebuild Better” initiative could be boosted if inclusiveness was placed at the heart of its strategy. He says investing in women-led businesses could benefit the UK economy to the tune of £ 250 billion.

Today (November 18) marks Equal Pay Day – a nationwide campaign that highlights the time of year when women, on average, stop winning over men due to the gender gap. gender pay.

Led by the Fawcett Society, Equal Pay Day 2021 is particularly poignant, as the gender pay gap has widened dramatically throughout the pandemic.

The organization said it was another setback for women. The majority of women carried the burden of care throughout the confinement. In addition, women have been disproportionately affected by leaves and layoffs and there has been a significant increase in domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.

But the gender pay gap (GPG) is nothing new. It is a long-standing and long-standing problem that goes hand in hand with inequalities within the labor market itself. However, COVID-19 has widened the GPG and exacerbated inequalities within society, the organization said.

And although the GPG has gradually declined over time, this year the GPG for all UK employees – including full-time and part-time employees – is 15.4%. This figure rose from 14.9% in 2020.

Helen Burkinshaw, Policy and Research Coordinator at The Women’s Organization, said: “The gender pay gap is nothing new, it is an age-old problem – which is certainly no less. a problem, in fact quite the contrary. . And this is as much an economic as a societal issue. What is requested here is not a policy, it is an action.

“I would first like to urge the government to make it necessary here to take a gender disaggregated approach to policy making. We must see the establishment of specific jobs, retraining aid and investments in childcare if we are to begin to smooth out imbalances in the labor market. This is imperative in the context of the upgrading program and the overall economic recovery plan. “

She added: “While it is encouraging to see that the gender pay gap has become a priority for policy makers, there is no real impact so far – in fact, as shown. the numbers, we have taken a huge step backwards. What is needed is a strategic, direct and binding action plan.

Helen suggests that an ideal starting point would be to focus on start-up funding for women-led businesses.

The British Business Bank recently reported that women-founded start-ups in the UK receive less than a penny for every £ 1 of venture capital investment, compared to their male counterparts who receive the majority of 89 cents.

And a report from the Female Founders Forum, in association with The Entrepreneurs Network, revealed a 15% funding gap between start-ups run by men and women – a shortfall of £ 1.6 billion per year in terms of funding proportionally split between genders. .

The report also concluded that if women started businesses as often as men, the UK economy would be better off by £ 250 billion.

And Helen says it’s not a lack of appetite that prevents women from starting and growing successful businesses, but rather financial barriers and access to support. She said: “During these difficult months of foreclosure, at The Women’s Organization we have been encouraged to record more than double the number of inquiries regarding women starting a business – a clear indication of women’s resilience and their determination to be economically active.

“We are seeing a shift in the traditional barriers that have typically held back women in business – aspirations rise, confidence increases and we have a whole host of successful female role models that did not exist ten years ago.

“And we’re seeing women making major strides in industries like GreenTech, where women-founded businesses make up 34% of businesses in the industry, but leverage 42% of all equity funding. Yet overall progress is still frustratingly slow, and the gender funding gap is still worrying. “

She said, “More needs to be done on the ground to remove financial barriers and ensure that we are providing the right support and mentorship to women entrepreneurs. As a matter of urgency, the Government must place gender equality at the heart of its economic strategy.

The Women’s Organization is the largest developer and provider of training and support for women in the UK. It has supported over 60,000 women and helped start over 4,000 businesses since its inception in 1996. It has operations in Liverpool and Manchester.

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