Enterprise: Is it different for girls?

An interesting post from our enterprise colleagues

Women-led enterprises contribute around £70 billion to the economy, but women are half as likely as men to be entrepreneurs. Last month, the Burt Report Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise was published, outlining ways in which government can support women into business. Why is enterprise different for girls?

The Statistics

  • 19% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are majority-led by women (either run by a woman or have a management team that is over 50% women).
  • 49% of SMEs are entirely led by men.
  • In 2012 6.3% of working age women involved in entrepreneurial activity compared with 11.6% of men.
  • Despite the increase in self-employment among women (last year 70% of new self-employed were women) women’s businesses are likely to get less support and are less likely to survive.

Different motivation for starting a business

Women express different motivations to starting a business than men. According to research, women are attracted to starting a business that will fit around their family commitments. Men are more likely to be motivated by money and look for self-employment opportunities when they are made redundant. Women, and younger women in particular, are more likely to start a social enterprise.

Different Types of Business

Businesses led by women on average are likely to be smaller and be in specific sectors; generally women-led businesses are overrepresented in the service sector. The BIS Small Business Survey in 2012 found that women tend to stick with what they are familiar with and start businesses in sectors they had already worked or studied in. There is also a trend for women to transition a hobby to a business. Interestingly, women’s businesses may have greater job-creation potential than men’s because they tend to be more labour-intensive.

What are the barriers?

The Women’s Business Council, set up to advise government on how women’s contribution to growth can be optimised, identified three main barriers for women starting a business.

  • Finance Women perceive access to finance as a barrier to starting and are less likely to use external finance However, those that did apply were more successful in getting funding than male led SMEs. Women may be more averse to getting in to debt than men. In business performance, there is no difference between women and men, but women-led enterprises generally start with lower levels of resources.
  • Lack of skills Women are less likely than men to think they have the skills needed to start a business. Research in 2011 showed 45% of men believed they had the skills they needed to start their own business compared with 29% of women.
  • Fear of failure Women are more likely to be put off starting up their own enterprise because they are afraid of failure.


 Why should more women be supported into business?

Aside from the financial contribution to the economy, the EY Report, Time for Diversity recognised the different skills that women bring to the workplace. Women have strong listening skills, greater levels of empathy and patience and are willing to understand the perspectives of others when making decisions. They are also more inclined to take a longer-term view of the business and be interested in issues such as sustainability and developing talent.

What support is available?

There is an array of support available to support women into business from networks, government advice and organisations to online resources. Here are a few.

http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/women-in-enterprise/ this is a huge online resource which includes links to information on skills, finance, funding and networks and includes a section specifically aimed at women entrepreneurs.

http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/mybusinesssupporttool/ My Business Support Tool is an online tool providing tailored information on sources of funding and guidance for wherever you are in your business cycle.

https://www.everywoman.com/ This is a British Library IP and Business Centre partner providing training, resources and support services for women in business

http://www.womenunlimitedworldwide.com/ A community for women who want to start a business, or grow an existing business


Mentors can be invaluable guides and a source of useful contacts. There are many mentorship programmes that women entrepreneurs can access across the UK.

http://www.mentorsme.co.uk/ List of business mentoring organisations across Britain.

http://www.bitc.org.uk/london/what-we-offer/social-enterprise-mentoring-programme Support for anyone starting or running a social enterprise.

http://www.prime.org.uk/ Mentoring for entrepreneurs aged 50+.

http://ioee.uk/ Find a mentor using this web-based networking community.


https://www.facebook.com/EastLondonCreativeBusinessWomenNetwork East London Creative Business Women’s Network

All the Techie ladies

Here is a good news story, it shows that positive change is possible and it needn’t even take that long. Technology has long been a male dominated environment, but they have also been an industry that has been one of the most proactive in taking action to remedy the dire previous gender split, and are now reaping the benefits. It is also worth celebrating, as this progressive industry is also a fast growing sector which means the changes are here to stay and likely to benefit a wider number of people as time goes on


Keep up the good work IT world, we salute you (virtually of course)

International Women’s Day

Did you know International Women’s Day was yesterday? Well there were a number of interesting and engaging events taking place, highlighting serious issues affecting women across the world.


This was to encourage men to consider the world through new eyes, whilst challenging the norm.

It was a good opportunity to highlight serious issues affecting women across the world



It seems everyone had something to say…even Glamour magazine  http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/news/features/2015/03/04/international-womens-day

In order for positive affirmation to have widespread support we need to be the change we want to see. This means challenging a stereotype, a way of working, a jokey comment that is never just a joke, pushing the glass ceiling, challenging unfair pay. This is something that both genders can do. As Professor Michael Luck, Dean of Natural and Mathematical Sciences said when asked yesterday why he was chairing an International Women’s Day panel, ‘this is not a women’s issue, there is a cultural shift that requires all of us be involved and support it’. From mentoring, to supporting careers breaks to raise a family, to flexible working, there are a number of things both genders can do to adopt a positive mindset and move things forward.

Ticking the Diversity box

Our last post focussed on the lack of diversity seen during awards season, and this is really a follow on from that, looking at current media and the small screen and whether the shows we are presented with represent the diverse societies in which we live.

Channel 4, in particular, have launched a Diversity Charter to ensure their leading roles reflect new diversity targets and represent a wider breadth of differences including; ethnicity, gender, sexuality and disability.

But does a tick box approach work, particularly when it is linked to pay? Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham said the targets, backed by a new £5m investment, had legal backing – “It is positive action, not positive discrimination”.

And whilst there may be disagreements about a target heavy approach to representing diversity , Channel 4 have, at the very least, thrust the issue into the spotlight. With the BBC and Sky pledging their own initiatives to tackle the lack of diversity on (and behind) our screens we are already starting to see the inclusion of fresh new shows ‘ticking the box’.

These following Channel 4 shows have all ‘ticked the box’;

Yes – Cucumber: Drama exploring the heartbreak and joy of modern gay life

banana and cucumber--(None)_A2

Yes – The Last Leg: Comedy series Celebrating inclusivity, equality and diversity

Last leg

Yes – Indian Summers:  Epic drama where India dreams of independence, but the British are clinging to power

Indian Summers

For further information take a look at The Independent’s article.

Increased job opportunities for marginalised groups are one outcome of these initiatives – but more diversity on our screens could have a wider impact – filtering through into an increasingly diverse workforce across sectors. Watch this space (literally!).

Image Copyright: Fair Use www.channel4.com

Awards Season and Diversity


Hollywood sign by Florian Klauer - public domain

Awards season is upon us with all its glitz and glamour.

But amongst the sequins, plunging necklines and star studded selfies, has emerged a more serious issue; that of the lack of diversity in British filmmaking.

In an article for the Independent, Chris Bryant, shadow minister for the arts described the almost complete absence of black actors and directors at the top of the industry as an ‘insulting throwback to a bygone era’.

Worryingly, according to the Taking Part survey, there is a 10% gap between white, and black and ethnic minority participation in the arts , which shows an under-representation in this industry more widely.

Does this impact you as students or recent graduates looking to break into the creative fields?

Be sure to take a look at our events calendar available via the Reach website as we often advertise schemes, internships and events that can help you with your initial steps. http://reach.thecareersgroup.co.uk/

Stonewall Top 100 Employers

Stonewall top 100 employers logo
Stonewall has released the 2015 version of its Workplace Equality Index which identifies Britain’s most gay friendly employers. This year they have also introduced “additional criteria to assess organisations’ commitment to lesbian, gay and bisexual staff globally” with 10 companies achieving “Top Global Employers for 2015” status.You can find the list and report on Stonewall’s website and lesbian, gay, and
bisexual jobseekers might also find their Starting Out Guide helpful which is available online as well as hard copies in your careers service.Find more resources for LGBT jobseekers on Careers Tagged.

Disclosing criminal convictions to employers: Things you need to know

Have you received a criminal conviction or reprimand and are worried about how this could affect your employability? We’ve put together a short guide on what employers may require you to declare and what background checks they may run as part of their selection process.

Please note this is a general guideline only that is not exhaustive and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need further information on a specific issue please follow the links at the bottom of the page.

Spent and Unspent Convictions

In accordance with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 criminal convictions become spent after a certain period and it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of a spent conviction unless they are exempt from the Act (see below). Assuming the employer is not exempt, spent convictions do not need to be declared during the application process.

For specific information on how long it takes before varying convictions/fine’s/bind-overs become spent take a look at the Nacro website: http://goo.gl/Tn4uKZ. It’s worth noting that convictions resulting in a prison sentence of 4 years or more never become spent.

Exemptions from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

Certain jobs are exempt from the Act, meaning regardless of whether a conviction is spent or unspent it must be declared during the selection process. These include:

  • Jobs involving national security vetting
  • Jobs in law enforcement
  • Certain jobs in the security sector
  • Jobs in healthcare and the NHS
  • Jobs in Law
  • Certain jobs that involve working with children, vulnerable adults or the elderly
  • Senior positions in banking and finance

An employer should clearly state whether they are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act early in the application process.

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks

Some employers will require you to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service check once you’ve commenced employment. This generally will only be required for jobs that involve working with children (18 years of age or younger) or vulnerable adults (the elderly, people with disabilities or people under the care of the employee).

The DBS is an executive agency within the Home Office that relays criminal information from the Police to employers. In order for an employer to request a DBS check they are legally obliged to ensure the candidates role meets certain criteria, such as working with children unsupervised, and that the level of DBS check is appropriate.

More information on DBS checks can be found here: http://goo.gl/KbTuio .

National Security Vetting

Certain jobs require candidates to undergo a process of security vetting. These jobs are generally ones in which employees have access to sensitive information pertaining to law enforcement or national security and include:

  • Jobs within the Police
  • Certain jobs within the armed forces
  • Certain jobs within the private defence sector
  • Certain jobs within the Civil Service
  • Jobs involving access to nuclear material

Regardless of the level of security clearance candidates are required to apply for during the selection process, all criminal convictions, cautions, arrests or non-convictions should be declared (this includes penalties arising from traffic offences). With these type of disclosures, when in doubt declare! Failing to declare even a minor reprimand can be construed as dishonesty which is treated severely within these types of selection processes.

Subject Access Requests

The Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the right to access information held on you by organisations

If you have received a penalty from the police for an offence but have forgotten what or when exactly it was, you can make a Subject Access Request to the police force that issued the penalty. Once you’ve submitted the request you will receive information that is held on you on the Police National Computer, including arrests and non-convictions. The police can deny you this information in certain circumstances.

For more information on Subject Access Requests see here: http://goo.gl/DdVg6.

Useful Links

Nacro: http://goo.gl/Tn4uKZ
Disclosure and Barring Service: http://goo.gl/KbTuio
Defence Business Services National Security Vetting: http://goo.gl/Tkzur4
Subject Access Requests: http://goo.gl/DdVg6
Citizens Advice Bureau: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

‘If working-class gay school leaver can be made OBE, so can you’

Ernst & Young managing partner for people Liz Bingham has made the New Year’s Honours List for promoting equality in the workplace.

Not only an inspiration for overcoming barriers herself; Ms Bingham said: “I’m from a working-class background, state school background, not a graduate, a woman and gay, so I hope people will take a lot out of that and reflect on themselves and think, ‘if she can do that, then I can too.’” but also for a genuine and active interest in championing the diversity agenda and ensuring it is at the heart of business.

Read more about the work being done on diversity in the workplace here http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1148979/bingham-diversity-heart-business 


Teaching Styles and Dyslexia

I came across this interesting article recently


  • High school student Jo has been appointed as a young ambassador at the British Dyslexia Association.
  • She wants teachers and employers to understand dyslexic individuals have a different way of learning. Jo states that “When teachers explain things to me with drawings, I can understand. I had a teacher who understood how I work and used my dyslexia to help me.”
  • Jo thinks that teachers should have more training on how to deal with students who have dyslexia and has produced a video that she hopes will help change the education system.
  • Jo’s video can be viewed here

When looking for a job some of the worries of many people suffering with dyslexia is whether a company will discriminate against them for their disorder, which is a recognised disability.

The ‘two ticks’ disability symbol 

‘Although employers are bound by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to treat you fairly, some demonstrate that they are particularly positive about employing and retaining disabled people.

Some employers show this by placing the Jobcentre Plus ‘two ticks’ disability symbol on their job adverts.

This means the employer has made some specific commitments regarding the employment of disabled people. As part of this, you are guaranteed an interview if you meet the minimum conditions for the job vacancy.’

Further details and support can be found at the following organisations:

British Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia Action

Earn while you learn

New Apprenticeship Degrees have been announced this week which will be available, in the first instance in Digital Technology, beginning in 2015.

According to the Government press release on 26 November

Degree Apprenticeships will revolutionise the way young people develop digital skills

….Degree Apprenticeships will allow young people to complete a full honours degree alongside their employment while paying no student fees and earning a wage throughout.

The first Degree Apprenticeships are to be launched in the digital sector, and are expected to suit people embarking on careers ranging from business analysis to software development and technology consultancy. The new programme includes a fully-integrated degree testing both academic learning and on-the-job practical training, and has been co-created by leading tech employers and top universities.

A number of employers involved in the Tech Partnership, a group of firms working together to create the skills and jobs the digital industry needs, have already committed to offering Degree Apprenticeships. These include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, CGI, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services. Universities including Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London, University of the West of England and Winchester will be supporting the courses and are working with employers to offer these degrees.

These apprenticeships emanate from a December 2011 strategy paper Building Engagement, Building Futures which set out a number of measures to bring down the number of 16-24 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET).

This short extract gives the figures current then and summarises the challenges

The majority of young people succeed in education and make a positive transition to adult life and the world of work. But we face a very real challenge in terms of opportunities for young people, with 1.16 million young people in England aged 16-24 not in education, employment or training (NEET):

  • 150,000 are 16-17 year olds who may need additional opportunities or support to re-engage in education or training;
  • 523,000 are 18-24 year olds who are unemployed, not in education, and looking for work. 249,000 have been unemployed for over six months and may need significant help to find work; and
  • 490,000 are 18-24 year olds who are economically inactive. Of these, 371,000 are looking after family or home, or are sick or disabled. The remaining 119,000 are inactive for a wide range of other reasons.

According to the press release this week

About Degree Apprenticeships:

  • prospective apprentices can apply to the companies that are offering the programmes once the vacancies are advertised in the new year. These companies will then work with the relevant universities to select the students most able to be successful in both the degree and their career.
  • government will fund 2 thirds of the costs of the training and course fees, up to a maximum cap which will be set following government approval. Employers will pay the apprentice a wage and contribute the other third of the cost of the training and course fees. This has been made possible by the £20 million funding announced at Budget 2014 including the commitment that government will fund higher education provision within the Apprenticeships programme
  • a young person doing the new programme will be employed and earning a wage throughout, not have to pay any student fees, and complete their apprenticeship with a full honours degree
  • the first Degree Apprenticeships will start in September 2015
  • this announcement reflects the government’s commitment to developing higher level skills through a range of routes and to accelerating the growth of the digital economy. This model breaks new ground by fully integrating on the job training and academic learning at degree level with courses co-designed by a range of employers and a range of universities specifically for apprentices, testing both the academic learning and on-the-job practical skills

Obviously at this point we don’t know exactly how many apprenticeships there will be (although a BBC report  says a guaranteed 150 places), what the take up will be like, what the academic requirements are etc and at the moment they are only in the digtal sector.  However it implies that this is only the beginning and that opportunites in other sectors will be coming soon.  Some notable universities and employers are ‘on board’  so one would hope that this is the start of something much larger and broader.

These apprenticeships will, in this writer’s opinion, offer an opportunity to those who might find it difficult to apply to university either because of financial, social or physical constraints and I will be interested to see how things develop.

These are some of the other sources of information used for this blog and on appenticeships


Tech Partnership

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills – GOV.UK