Investing in Women Code helped female-led firms during Covid

The Investing in Women Code helped keep finance flowing to female-led businesses and supported jobs throughout Covid-19, a report has revealed.

The code’s annual progress report has found that the 100 signatories of the joint government and investor initiative are more likely to invest in female-run businesses than other investors, improving access to finance for women.

Women and men were equally successful in applications for bank finance this year, albeit for smaller loans on average.

Read more: Pollen Street Capital among leaders launching ‘Invest in Women Hub’

All-female teams also had a higher success rate in being taken forward for further consideration by the angel investors who participated than all-male teams. The government said it is committed to working with industry to better understand the causes of these discrepancies and finding solutions.

Ministers are urging more in the finance community to build on this success by signing up to the code and sharing their data.

The code, launched in July 2019, is a commitment to support female entrepreneurship in the UK by improving women’s access to the advice, resources and finance needed to build a business.

It was set up after access to finance was identified as the biggest disparity between female and male entrepreneurs by NatWest Group chief executive Alison Rose’s review of female entrepreneurship in 2019 (the Rose Review).

Member firms supply the data published today in the code’s annual progress report as part of a commitment to improve transparency and create an industry benchmark for investment in female entrepreneurs.

Signatories commit to nominating a member of the senior leadership team responsible for supporting equality in access to finance, increase the transparency of data concerning support for female entrepreneurs and adopt internal practices to improve the outlook for female entrepreneurs.

Read more: More women invested in alternative loans in 2020

“Backing Britain’s female entrepreneurs will create jobs and help us build back better,” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

“I’m pleased to see so many of our major banks and venture capital firms taking action by supporting the Investing in Women Code.

“And I call on others to follow suit and be part of a turning point in attitudes towards investing in female-led businesses.”

Read more: Aviva CEO becomes new Women in Finance Champion

Rose said it was “fantastic” to see so many institutions join the Investing in Women code as signatories.

“Access to finance was the number one disparity between female and male entrepreneurs identified in the Rose Review,” she added.

“This area remains the single biggest opportunity for female entrepreneurs in the UK, particularly as we take the next steps towards sustainable economic recovery. We need continued action across the industry, and the commitment that many leading institutions has shown to date has been encouraging.

“I’m proud to be driving the development of the code, and I warmly welcome the publication of this report.”

Catherine Le Torre, chief executive of British Business Bank, said the report highlights positive signs of change but there is still much progress to be made.

“I look forward to seeing more venture capital firms committing to the Investing in Women Code, and together building a valuable benchmark for our industry,” she said.