UK's largest ever gender index research study raises questions for business

The largest research study ever undertaken into female entrepreneurship highlights in gender terms the disparity between male and female-led companies in Scotland and the rest of the UK. 

Drawing on AI-powered live data from over 4.5 million businesses UK-wide and with the aim of creating a fairer future, key statistics from the accurate analysis by The Gender Index data reveal that while 16.8% of all active UK companies are female-led, the number is lower in Scotland (15.4%).   13.2% of female-led companies north of the border are considered small - i.e. employ 10-49 people – higher than the UK average of 12.4%.


These are just some of the statistics and facts that inform a presentation made by Jill Pay, Chairman of The Gender Index at a seminar at law firm Shoosmiths in Edinburgh today (Tuesday 11 October, 12-2pm).


The research also reveals that the highest percentage of female-led companies in Scotland operate in health, wellbeing and social care (34.4%) – a figure that’s comparable to other UK nations. However, average revenue growth rates among female-led companies in Scotland are lower than those observed in other UK nations across all company size bands.

During the talk, Jill Pay shared how The Gender Index data, available free to the public at presents both challenges and opportunities for UK businesses.

Jill Pay commented: “The Gender Index is ground-breaking and the largest research study into female entrepreneurship ever undertaken.  It accurately measures the number of female-led companies and their impact on the UK economy.

“Notably, in 2019, the Rose Review identified that an additional £250bn could be contributed to the UK economy simply by empowering more women to start and grow companies.  The Gender Index research shows that whilst this is now happening – female-led incorporations in 2021 reached 20% - more needs to be done UK-wide to support female-led companies to make the jump from small to medium and large size enterprises.”

“Professor Eleanor Shaw of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde Business School, enjoyed presenting our key findings and discussed the challenges and opportunities the data presents for business in Scotland. It was an opportunity to share our ambition to create a more equal future in gender terms by providing, for the first time, a clear and accurate picture of the UK company landscape.”

Alison Gilson, corporate partner and head of Shoosmiths’ Edinburgh office, commented: “I have no doubt that Shoosmiths partnership with The Gender Index will help us play our part in building a more detailed picture of where there are gender gaps in business.

“Its insightful analysis has highlighted that in addition to Scotland being one of the areas in the UK with the highest percentage (12%) of high-growth female-led companies, the overwhelming majority of identified investments for female-led companies were made by angel investors rather than through venture capital funds. 

“These are significant findings and it will add further value to Shoosmiths’ spHERe network that’s designed to support female founders and venture capitalists.” 


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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