Flagship Royal Bank of Scotland event to focus on women in business

ROYAL Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan joined women business leaders at a flagship event designed to support female business owners and employees.

The bank says its RBS Women in Business conference at Gogarburn conference centre is the first of its kind in Scotland for customers, stakeholders and staff. About 300 people attended the event, which was organised with support from partners including ourselves. It believes that if women ran as many businesses in Scotland as men, the nation’s economy would be boosted by at least £7.6 billion. “We can see how much bigger the economy would be if women started businesses at the same pace as men,” said Women’s Enterprise Scotland ambassador Suzanne Doyle-Morris, who spoke at the event. “For me, that’s a huge waste, because the UK educates its women as well as, if not better than, men. There are more UK female graduates but we’re not making the most of their brains. Shame on us – what a waste of talent. We need to help women create businesses that get all the way through the pipeline, rather than seeing them as a problem during their child-bearing years.”

Ms Doyle-Morris, who has written two books on women in male-dominated fields and advised on diversity with clients including Tesco, Unilever, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and BAE Systems, will deliver a session on unconscious bias. “Conversations about bias are hard, but are a new requirement for any 21st century thinker,” she said. RBS highlighted its own diversity goals, including having women in more than 30 per cent of its top 600 roles by 2020. The bank’s longer term aim is to have a 50/50 balance at all levels by 2030. “More than 30 per cent of the 5,000 most senior roles at RBS are already held by women, but the bank wants to go further with a new target to ensure there are more women at the top of the organisation,” the bank said last May when it announced its targets for more female leaders. It added: “Research shows that having more women at senior levels leads to better decision making, increased employee engagement, more innovation and greater diversity of thought.” Mr McEwan delivered a keynote speech on what RBS is doing internally to support women and meet gender targets. Alison Rose, the bank’s chief executive of commercial and private banking, discussed how the bank supports women customers, including a network of 300 specialist ‘Women in Business’ relationship advisers. RBS aims to increase this number to 500 by the end of the year. Other speakers included Lucy-Rose Walker, co-founder of incubator programme Entrepreneurial Spark, Carol Smillie, co-founder of underwear brand DiaryDoll, Margaret Gibson, chief executive of Women's Enterprise Scotland and Karen Gill, co-founder of Everywoman, the membership organisation dedicated to advancing women in business. The event also included a pitching competition, networking and exhibition stalls.

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