Ten things I took from my first WES Ambassador event

I’m incredibly excited to have been selected as a Women’s Enterprise Scotland ambassador and having just completed the induction day I’m fired up and ready to go (I also committed to four activities a year, so I’m getting ahead of myself for once with a blog on day one!).

Here are ten things I took away from the induction day.

Some context

Whilst the gender pay gap and equal pay regulations have been high on the political and media agenda for several years now, the case for equality in enterprise has not benefited from the same level of policy and stakeholder support. This is not a Scottish issue, it’s a global one, but by taking small steps and working together to champion the cause we can all make a big difference.

Inspiration

From hearing from inspirational existing WES Ambassadors about their journey so far to having lovely conversations with the WES team and other new ambassadors, I left the day feeling excited about not just my business, but also my role in helping to encourage other women into enterprise. Everyone I spoke to inspired me and made me think positively about their passion and commitment to entrepreneurship for women in Scotland.

Statistics

The stark reality is that despite women owned businesses contributing a mammoth £8.8 billion (more than the food and drink and sustainable tourism industries combined) to the Scottish economy every year, there still isn’t enough support for women in business. Just 20% of SMEs in Scotland are majority owned by women – imagine the impact if we could close that gap!

Humour

Something that really stood out to me during the induction day was that the WES team and the other ambassadors are all really nice people and whilst we were tackling a major global issue and debating heavy (and what could be slightly depressing) statistics we still managed to have lots of fun and laughs. I think that goes a long way when campaigning for a cause and is testament to the engagement levels WES enjoys with female entrepreneurs.

You get what you put in

Like everything else in life and in business, you get what you put in. The opportunities for personal and professional development as a WES ambassador are money can’t buy, so I plan to do as much as I possibly can. From training in sales strategy to how to give evidence in parliamentary committees, there are lots of chances to learn and then pass that knowledge on.

Paying lip service doesn’t cut it

To quote Findra founder Alex Feechan, who said that manufacturers make women’s sports clothing using the ‘pink it and shrink it’ method, paying lip service to female entrepreneurship just isn’t good enough. Carolyn Currie highlighted that sticking a picture of a woman in a hard hat into a progress report or adding ‘for women’ to the end of programme titles isn’t fixing the deep-rooted global issue of women lacking confidence in their ability to start and scale a business and the support structures to make this change for the better.

It’s economic, not just moral

While yes, giving support to women who want to start a business feels like a good, moral, nice thing to do and equality across the board is a positive step, the potential economic benefits of improving the environment for female entrepreneurship are huge and could transform our economy. The most powerful message we can deliver is the economic value of supporting women to grow businesses, not just the moral one.

The pay gap is worse for female business owners than employees

The UK employment gender gap is estimated at 18% which is clearly unacceptable, however I was shocked to hear that the self-employed gender pay gap is nearly double that at 33%. This really made me think about my own remuneration and how I should be structuring budgets in my business to ensure I’m rewarded fairly for my efforts.

Lots of momentum

As reported in the news last week, WES recommendations including the appointment of a Scottish Government Head of Women in Business and progress towards a National Women’s Centre for Business are moving at pace, so it’s an exciting time to be part of such a powerful movement.

A shared ambition to achieve #BalanceForBetter

The biggest thing I took from today was a shared ambition for Scotland, for women and for making positive changes that will impact future generations. I really can’t wait to get stuck in and find ways to cheerlead the work that WES is undertaking and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

Nathalie Agnew is the founder of Muckle Media and a Women's Enterprise Scotland Ambassador

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