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Baroness Karren Brady CBE: Less Than A Third Of UK Small Businesses Run By Women, As New Research Reveals A Shocking 81% Experience Sexism

   Simply Business data reveals less than a third of UK small businesses are owned by women, as “‘astonished” Baroness Karren Brady CBE partners to help

        A new survey of 900 women reveals the scale of the challenge facing women in business. Four in five self-employed women (81%) say they’ve experienced sexism, gender inequality or unequal access to opportunities whilst running their businesses

        Majority (92%) of women business owners believe the government should be doing more – childcare support, government-sponsored funding, access to mentoring and networking called out as areas for desperate improvement.

        Baroness Karren Brady CBE has partnered with Simply Business to offer exclusive mentoring to support the success of one lucky woman entrepreneur 

        The Empowering Women in Business initiative helps female entrepreneurs overcome sexism and gender bias in business, with applications for the exclusive prize open until 5th April

7th March 2023, London – Ahead of International Women’s Day, Simply Business, one of the UK’s largest providers of small business insurance, has partnered with British business executive and BBC’s The Apprentice star Baroness Karren Brady CBE, to reveal the key challenges facing women in business.

A new survey of over 900 women business owners,revealed less than a third of small businesses in the UK are owned by women*. It comes as a shocking four in five women business owners (81%) say they have experienced sexism, gender inequality or unequal access to opportunities whilst running their own business**.

The majority (92%) of those surveyed believe the government should be doing more, with childcare support, government-sponsored funding, and access to mentoring and networking called out as areas for desperate improvement.

The Empowering Women in Business initiative has been launched to help female entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they are facing in business and will see one female entrepreneur win a one-to-one mentoring session with Baroness Karren Brady CBE.

Entries are open until 5th April and business owners can sign up here.

Sexism and gender inequality remain widespread in 2023:

Astonishingly, half of all women small business owners (50%) have experienced sexism as a business owner, while one in three (32%) have experienced gender inequality or unequal access to opportunities.

Meanwhile, four in ten (39%) say investors, colleagues and customers make quick assumptions about them or underestimate them when compared to men in a similar position. A further quarter of women business owners (28%) say they aren’t heard enough compared to men or taken as seriously as men when pitching their product/business (26%). Three in ten (28%) believe that, as a business owner, they aren’t given the same opportunities as men as a result of having children.

As a result, a third (33%) would categorise the issue of gender bias and inequality in business as ‘severe’ and many are demanding immediate action.

Almost half (47%) of those polled believe there is a need to call out gender bias and inequality as it happens, whilst 46% believe more education on gender bias and its impact is urgently needed.

Baroness Karren Brady CBE, ambassador for Simply Business, comments: “The level of gender bias and inequality within the small business sector revealed, is quite frankly astonishing. Sexism and bias, whether conscious or unconscious, must be called out for a genuine chance of equality in business. The economy needs the support of small businesses in the UK and we must inspire women to get into business, and help abolish the challenges they face daily.

“Simply Business is a brand that has a track record of supporting women entrepreneurship, a value that I have prioritised throughout my career. That’s why I’m delighted to partner with Simply Business to support small business owners, across the whole sector, at a vital time, starting with a one-on-one mentoring session for a female entrepreneur.”

Deb Pease, Owner of Melbourne cafe, Litchfield: “I experience sexism as a business owner on a daily basis. Generally from male salesmen who ask if they can ‘speak to the male owner please?’. I have shop carpenters that say ‘okay lady, I’ll just ask your husband if that’s what he wants’ despite it being my business. I now have to hire female carpenters so I don’t have to put up with that anymore. Meanwhile, there are some technicians that I literally have to ask my husband to talk to, because they won’t talk to me.”

Jo Marsh, Founder of Brown and Ginger, Shrewsbury, Shropshire: “The handful of instances where customers have been excessively rude, aggressive, threatening and/or particularly unreasonable, I chose to do an experiment and switched to signing off my emails as ‘Dave’. Every single time, the customer suddenly found their manners and the matter was resolved quickly when we’d previously been going round the houses with everything I offered as myself. This worked on both male and female customers.”

Barriers to business growth:

The findings confirm that long-standing sexism challenges still show no sign of going away but there are other barriers.

Despite the overwhelming majority of women entrepreneurs (85%) wanting to grow their business, almost half (44%) said scaling up remains one of their biggest challenges.

What’s more, the cost-of-living crisis is having an overwhelming impact on women business owners, with one in four (27%) having to put their business plans on hold as a result.

Meanwhile, the majority (92%) of respondents believe the government should be doing more to support women business owners. To help solve the issue, women business owners would like support and encouragement from a business mentor or coach (46%), greater access to business funding (45%) or simply more support from like-minded business owners and networks (39%).

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “At Simply Business we’re proud to support hundreds of thousands of women who own flourishing small businesses across the UK. International Women’s Day marks an opportunity for us to celebrate the women making their dreams a reality but also acknowledge and shed light on the unique – and very real – challenges that many continue to face.

“By partnering with Baroness Karren Brady CBE – a hugely admired businesswoman – we’re looking to surface these challenges in order to drive positive change. Small businesses are so crucial to the UK’s economy and communities, and we’re also hoping to inspire countless creative, resourceful women entrepreneurs across the country to follow their business dreams.

“We’re delighted to offer one woman business owner the opportunity to receive an exclusive, one-on-one mentoring session with Karren, as well as granting many others the opportunity to join an exclusive Q&A webinar with her.”

Small business owners have until 5 April to sign up for the chance to win a one-on-one mentoring session with Karren Brady at

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