London October 2015. The second International Female Quotient (#FQ2) Conference took place on Wednesday October 28 at The Shard in London, in the Warwick Business School venue. The conference highlighted key research findings on women’s enterprise and launched an exciting ten-point plan and deployment framework that underpins the development of the first UK Economic Blueprint for Women.
The conference was organised by Pink Shoe Foundation (Pink Shoe) in collaboration with the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), the UK’s leading independent Research Centre on SMEs and enterprise. It is the second Female Quotient conference organised by Pink Shoe and supports the growth of women-owned businesses in the UK. The first conference, held in October of last year, discussed the state of opportunities for women in business. A direct outcome was agreement by the conference delegates on the concept of a UK Economic Blueprint for Women and a strong partnership with Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) International.
WIPP International, who participated and presented in last year’s conference, were at the time looking outside the US to take their tested model to pilot in a country where it would make a difference. In the weeks following that first conference, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Pink Shoe Foundation and WIPP International in the US. Pink Shoe has since been confirmed as the delivery partner for the model which underpins the UK Economic Blueprint for Women.
As a result, and with the support of WIPP International, Pink Shoe has developed the framework for the UK Economic Blueprint to drive the growth of women-owned businesses. The Blueprint will help to create the conditions for women owned/led businesses to gain an equal share of business opportunities and contracts nationally and internationally. It is based on four principles: fair access to capital, markets, research and training (including mentoring and coaching).
This year’s conference launched the UK Economic Blueprint for Women, which is being driven by the Pink Shoe Senate. Speakers included the Rt Hon Alan Mak MP, Professor Stephen Roper, Director and Deputy Directors Professor Mark Hart and Katherine Hathaway, from the Enterprise Research Centre; Jennifer Bisceglie, President of WIPP International, and Baroness Burt of Solihull.
Jill Pay, Chair of the Pink Shoe Senate, updated on progress since the first FQ conference and described the ten point framework, covering the vision, mission and scope of the task force and work streams which have been set up to bring the Economic Blueprint to fruition over the next five years. ERC shared recent research findings about women-owned businesses in the UK, while two of the established work streams – access to capital and access to markets – were also presented. Confirmed delegates include women business owners, organisations that represent women business owners, influencers and policy makers.
The Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, the Rt. Hon Anna Soubry MP, who briefly joined the conference during the networking reception said, “Earlier this week we announced new measures to eradicate gender pay inequality in the work place as part of the Government’s determination to extend opportunity to all. Although the gender pay gap is the lowest since records began, I still see too many examples of capable women losing out.
“In the 21st century, women-led businesses should get a fairer share of the market. That is why I welcome the development of the UK Economic Blueprint and the work of the Pink Shoe Foundation to give talented women a strong, influential voice.”
As Jill Pay commented, “This year’s conference is pivotal. It is Day One in Year One of our Economic Blueprint framework and we are now promoting our work streams to women-owned businesses everywhere in the UK. In the past year, we have established the work streams and set out their terms of reference. We are primarily working with nationally based organisations and networks of women-owned businesses, in order to reach the largest possible number of women-owned businesses.”
Helene Martin Gee continued, “The UK Economic Blueprint has set down a marker which will act as a strong beacon to female entrepreneurs and women owned businesses. The Blueprint has strong support from Ministers, MPs and Peers and via the All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship and other leading All Party groups. We will use advocacy and influence to seek policy and economic solutions to improve opportunities for women led businesses and with the assistance of our international and UK partners and supporters, we are confident that we can achieve our goals.”
Pink Shoe Foundation is an influential and innovative business network that works to positively impact life-long development of women. Its founder is Helene Martin Gee. Patrons are The Rt. Hon Theresa May MP and Tessa Sanderson CBE. The Pink Shoe Senate, which drives development and strategy, is chaired by Jill Pay. Established in 2007 in London, Pink Shoe creates initiatives across the UK to advance talented women at all levels. Members are an eclectic mix of high-ranking professionals encompassing Government, industry, academia, entrepreneurship, public service and third sectors. Its special focus on Entrepreneurship includes working in partnership with key Parliamentary groups to generate a range of vibrant and interactive events connecting prominent and emerging entrepreneurs, and young people of all backgrounds with Parliament. www.pinkshoeclub.com
WIPP International’s mission is to build powerful collaborative networks among leading, women-led organisations to leverage their joint power to negotiate for policy and economic solutions to enable women to achieve economic independence and participate fully in their country’s economic growth. For more information, please visit www.WIPPinternational.org. WIPP in the US was founded in 2001. It now represents 4.7m women in business and has 78 partnering organisations. It is non-partisan and focuses with considerable success on advocacy for economic policies that impact the growth of women entrepreneurs.
The Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) was established in 2013 with a mission to answer the question ‘What drives SME Growth?’. It is a collaboration between 23 world class researchers from five University Business Schools: Warwick, Aston, Birmingham, Imperial College and Strathclyde. It is currently funded by BIS, Innovate UK, the British Bankers Association (on behalf of four major banks) and the Economic & Social Research Council. Its research covers six major themes – Entrepreneurial Ambition, Leadership & Management, Finance, Diversity, Export & Innovation and Business Demographics – and considers how these relate to the growth of SMEs. It also aims to be a ‘go to’ resource for data on small and medium size firms and their performance. ERC works with a wide range of partners and is collaborating with Pink Shoe to provide the evidence to stimulate the debate around women’s enterprise.
The UK Economic Blueprint for Women is being developed by the Pink Shoe in collaboration with key corporate partners and other organisations such as the Royal Society of Arts, WEConnect International, and the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC). It has strong support from Ministers, MPs and Peers, and via the All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship and other leading All-Party groups.