Media release: WES announces trio of male ambassadors in bid to end gender gap in enterprise


SCOTTISH Enterprise chief executive, Steve Dunlop, and David Sole OBE, managing partner at School for CEOs, have joined tech investor, Mark Logan, as the first male ambassadors to be part of the Women’s Enterprise Scotland male ambassador programme.

After delivering the Equality and Diversity in Business – Men as Agents of Change workshop last week at the 13th Business in the Parliament Conference, the pioneering trio of leading male businessmen headed up a call for more male entrepreneurs to join the ranks in fighting to end gender inequality in enterprise.

Lynne Cadenhead, chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have such high profile change agents making a visible call for action. The gender gap in enterprise is hugely harmful to the Scottish economy and it is not something we will address in isolation, we need both men and women to step up, challenge unconscious bias and champion the policy changes and the support mechanisms that are needed to achieve meaningful, transformative change.”

It is calculated that just 20 per cent of Scottish SMEs are majority-owned by women[1]. Women-owned businesses now contribute £8.8bn GVA into the Scottish economy, an increase of 76 per cent from £5bn GVA in 2012.[2]

Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is an exciting time for equality in Scotland with a renewed focus on inclusive growth and creating equal opportunities for all. Despite an increase in women’s enterprise in recent years, there’s still much to do if we are to see a true gender balance in enterprise.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be part of Women’s Enterprise Scotland male ambassador programme and look forward to working with partners to champion change.”

David Sole OBE, managing partner at School for CEOs, said: “We know from research that the business case for greater gender equality in organisations is proven, yet the lack of gender diversity is still an issue.

“I’m delighted to lend my support to WES as an ambassador because I believe that we need more diverse organisations – in the broadest sense of the word – but not only that, we need leaders in organisations to operate and lead in a more inclusive way.

“Diversity is simply not going to be enough on its own. For organisations to become more inclusive will require cultural change – a leader-led activity and one that takes time, but it will be time well spent for everyone.”

Tech investor and advisor, Mark Logan, became Women’s Enterprise Scotland’s first male ambassador in 2018, describing the gender imbalance in enterprise and especially in the tech sector as a “social aberration”. He continued: “I believe it’s essential that both men and women – and especially those of us in leadership positions – work together to properly address the causes of gender imbalance in enterprise and particularly in tech, much of which is attitudinal in origin.”

The topics of gender inequality and women’s economic empowerment will continue to be firmly on the agenda this month, with Women’s Enterprise Scotland hosting Scotland’s first Women’s Economic Empowerment Conference at the end of November in Edinburgh.

Run in association with US-based Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI), the event will examine the challenges faced by women globally and identify best practice and innovative solutions to bring about progress.

Notes for editors:

  • Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) works to create an entrepreneurial environment where women-led businesses can flourish. WES collaborates with other business support organisations to help close the gender gap in enterprise
  • Research shows that women-owned businesses in Scotland contribute £8.8bn into the economy every year and have created over 230,000 jobs.
  • Scotland’s women-owned businesses contribute more GVA than Sustainable Tourism (£3.9bn), Food & Drink (£4.1bn) and Creative Industries (£4.4bn).[3]
  • A recent report by the British Business Bank and the British Venture Capital Association revealed that less than 1p in every £1 of venture capital goes to female-led businesses.[4]
  • WES is a member of the T20, the think tank and ‘ideas bank’ of the G20 and participated in the T20 Summit in Tokyo in 2019 and in Buenos Aires in 2018.

[1] Office for National Statistics, UK Labour Market (August 2015)

[2] Supporting Women’s Enterprise in the UK; the Economic Case, Federation of Small Businesses and Women’s Enterprise Scotland (2018)

[3] Growth Sector Statistics Database, Scottish Government July 2019

[4]   UK VC and Female Founders British Business Bank. In collaboration with Diversity VC & BVCA (2019)

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