In order to make the most of everyone’s talents and maximise economic growth it is important that opportunities to start and grow businesses in the UK are open to everyone. Business creation and growth can increase levels of employment, increase productivity, grow the UK economy, and improve standards of living.

The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship published on 8 March 2019 was a sobering study, highlighting the difficulties that female entrepreneurs face when accessing finance, and exposing the gender gap in investment. The fact that female-led businesses receive less funding than those headed by men at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey, and that only 1% of all venture capital funding goes to businesses founded by all-female teams, are stark reminders of how far we have to go.

Many organisations who fund entrepreneurs have recognised that this is a deep-seated and widespread challenge for the industry, and some have taken positive action to overcome it. There has been the launch of funds for female entrepreneurs, pitching events targeted at women, establishment of mentoring relationships and networking events all aimed at reducing the barriers for women who are setting up and scaling up their businesses. Industry bodies have taken on coordinating roles by bringing parties together, hosting discussions, and developing approaches to tackling the issues.

The Investing in Women Code is designed for all organisations that fund entrepreneurs. It asks organisations to commit to having a member of the senior leadership team responsible for supporting equality in all its interactions with entrepreneurs; to providing data on financing entrepreneurs disaggregated by gender that will be collated in an annual report by HM Treasury; and, to adopt internal practices which aim to improve the potential for female entrepreneurs to successfully access the tools, resources, investment and finance they need to build and grow their businesses.

By signing up to the Investing in Women Code signatories will send a positive signal to entrepreneurs who are looking for funding, and to other investors who can be confident that the signatory is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in access to finance.