Women may be severely under-represented in the tech sector, but women-led tech businesses are going strong and are an inspiration to young women to consider STEM subjects or a career in tech, the latest insights report on women in business from Founders4Schools says. Julian Blake reports.
Founders4Schools, led by investor and philanthropist Sherry Coutu, has published the research for International Women’s Day annually since 2016. Its 2018 analysis says women are critical in driving economic growth, that women-led businesses are crucial to the success of every industry sector and that women-led businesses are growing fast. “It’s a great time to be a woman in business,” declares Coutu.
The report is accompanied by an online ‘inspiring women insight summary’ that allows users to see which local authority areas have most (and least) women-led businesses, and inspiring women running leading businesses in those areas. “We’ve put these women and their businesses on the map,” says F4S.
The database lists 1,279 of Britain’s inspiring women leading growing businesses with more than £1m in revenue. In the last year, says F4S, these businesses clocked up £25.9bn in sales, a median turnover of £7.8m and a median growth rate of 16.6%.
Introducing the report, Coutu says: “Every day – but on International Women’s Day in particular – we want every girl to know that there are no barriers to what they might do with their lives, we want every mayor and every reporter to know who the women in business are behind their great cities, and we want every teacher to know which the women-led businesses are near to their schools.”
Coutu says women in business are likely to have a personal story that “will resonate with children in a class”. She urges them to volunteer time via the FfS platform to go into a local school, and encourage at least five employees or peers to host a couple of days of work experience. “You will change the culture of our nation so that girls know there are no barriers to what they might do with their lives – literally during their lifetime.”
F4S has combined key financial performance indicators from open datasets available through LinkedIn and DueDil, to assess the performance of women-led businesses across different sectors and geographies.
It’s not all data, however. The report is rich with founder stories, including from toptable founder Karen Hanton, Azoomee co-founder Estelle Lloyd and Seenit founder Emily Forbes.
DigitalAgenda is chuffed to see two of its favourite businesswomen – Sarah Thackray and Catherine Coulter of BeaconHouse Events – feature in the report. Since foundation in 2014, the company has grown threefold, delivering business conferences, wildlife and film festivals, major sports exhibitions – and our own annual Impact Awards.
For the tech sector, where women are severely under-represented, female participation is seen as “crucial to the future of the UK economy”, says the report. “This analysis amplifies the need to encourage more young women to pursue STEM subjects, or to consider a career in technology.”
Coutu set up non-profit Founders4Schools in response to the UK tech talent challenge facing both education and industry, driven by a belief that entrepreneurs can inspire students into tech careers. In January, she led the launch of Workfinder, a new Founders4Schools app to connect young people aged 16-18 to work opportunities.
Founders4Schools won a 2017 DigitalAgenda Impact Award for employment and skills, in recognition of its innovative use of data to help it deliver its work most effectively, and at scale.
Mapped: The Fastest-Growing Women-Led Businesses Driving the UK Economy 2018
Women-led firms ‘driving growth: F4S women’s report 2017