Two pieces of good news landed in my inbox today
Two pieces of good news landed in my inbox today. The first is that Duncan Lawrie Private Bank has started a new scheme allowing female entrepreneurs to suspend making interest payments on business loans during their pregnancy and maternity leave. It’s a small step, but at least it’s in the right direction.
According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, banks treat women less favourably than men, with male entrepreneurs 5 per cent more likely to be granted a loan than women entrepreneurs. Those women that do gain access to finance are often subjected to higher rates, an average of 0.5 per cent more on a business loan. Speaking in late 2011, Theresa May said that the UK would benefit from an additional 150,000 start-ups each year if women could launch businesses at the same rate as men.
But to move onto the other piece of good news, Lord Davies has published his first annual progress report after his report on Women in Boards – and there has been movement towards getting more women on company boards. Just a year ago, 21 FTSE 100 companies didn’t have a single woman on their boards, now only 11 don’t. And women now account for 15 per cent of FTSE 100 directorships, up from 12.5 per cent.
There’s clearly still room for progress, but I’m quite glad that there hasn’t been any move towards compulsory quotas. These fail to tackle the real structural and cultural reasons women struggle to gain a place on the boardroom, and generate resentment among both sexes as, rightly or wrongly, some executive appointments are deemed ‘token’.
Women don’t need quotas – we simply need equal opportunities.