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How do we increase the empowerment of women in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises?

How do we increase the empowerment of women in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises?

Tina.Freed / 19 Nov 2015

Our large corporates are fully embracing diversity and inclusion from the board room to graduate recruitment. Women are firmly on the agenda and thank goodness for that. Well done to the people at organisations like the 30% Club, Business in the Community/Opportunity Now, The Women’s Business Council for all the great work achieved to highlight many of the obstacles and their tireless work for the empowerment of women in our major corporations.

At the other end of the spectrum in the corporate world November 19th sees the launch of the United Nations first Women’s Entrepreneurship day. Governmental and non-governmental organisations around the world are recognising the value and impact that women owned start-ups bring to the economy and will be looking to provide help and support to these female entrepreneurs to succeed. It is hard to disagree with motives.

In a typically developed country, that leaves females in the SME (Small to Medium Sized Enterprises) segment that are currently going unnoticed. Diversity including Women’s empowerment is just as important in our SME’s as it is in our largest and smallest corporations. In fact the learning and innovation achieved by this sector could benefit the large corporates and provide inspiration to those just starting out. There are many success stories from interesting businesses in the SME’s that should be heard and whilst they are diligently going about their business, their learnings are being overlooked.

Benefits of Diversity for SME’s

For many UK SME’s still struggling in the current economic climate, the key to survival and business growth lies in building the best possible team. True gender equality will only be attained when the distinct skills that women bring to the workplace are properly recognised by businesses.

Fresh ideas and perspectives brought to SME’s by women can help to fuel business growth as companies with progressive gender policies advance beyond competitors stuck in a more traditional mind-set. Innovation is the key ingredient for business growth and can flourish far more easily in a diverse workplace than one filled with men of similar age and outlook. As businesses survive and thrive on the accurate evaluation of risk, it’s crucial to have a balanced perspective and this is where gender equality can assist.


What can be done to empower Women in SME’s?

More flexible working practices, in order to build the most talented team, small businesses must reach out to a more diverse pool of potential employees, including higher numbers of women. Embracing more flexible working practices, such as flexi-time, working from home and job-sharing, can greatly improve the ability of companies to hire the most talented individuals for their organisation. These days the best candidates are more likely to be looking for jobs that offer a good work-life balance as well as a competitive salary.

The idea that women will abandon their career to have children and therefore investment in training is wasted, is a last-century mind-set that no longer fits the way modern companies are required to do business. Women no longer have to choose between a family and a career unless they’re forced to by the companies they work for. Instead, businesses should concentrate on supporting women to juggle the requirements of a career and family by providing more flexible work practices.

As well as implementing better working practices, small businesses should encourage more female entrepreneurs by fostering talent at an early age. This could involve working with local colleges and universities to create programs for women who want to develop their own business ideas. Small businesses could also offer more placements and work experience to young women. This will enable the next generation of businesswomen to gain management skills together with the confidence required to compete equally at all levels.

If the UK’s 5 million SMEs lead the way in promoting gender equality, Britain’s small business culture will be stronger as a result.

E2W a certified, women owned and run, financial services consultancy. Formed in recognition that flexible working arrangements provide the framework to support a healthy work-life balance. E2W have built on this framework and as a result, attract high calibre employees who want to work flexibly and still excel within a challenging and rewarding career


If you know an SME with a gender story then E2W would be keen to hear from you and if you have ideas or want to be involved in the promotion of diversity and inclusion of the empowerment of women in SME’s contact E2W on: +44 (0)1732 897708 or via the website




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