Since George V founded the Order of the British Empire in 1917, the New Year's Honours List - which rewards contributions to the arts, sciences and work with charitable and welfare organisations - has been dominated by men. However, in 2016, the New Year’s Honours list is made up of 578 women – 48% of the total.
It seems as though the Honours List is beginning to reflect the reality of thousands of women in the UK who are making leaps and bounds in breaking the glass ceiling, while helping to reshape and revitalise the traditionally male-dominated world of business.
One person on the List is Jacqueline Gold, Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, who has been recognised not only for her personal career success, but also for promoting women in business. Ms Gold works tirelessly to encourage entrepreneurship and social enterprise throughout the UK. Having grown her father’s business in to a multi-million pound empire, Ms Gold has shifted some of her focus to encouraging other women to enter business too. In 2015, she set up the Women on Wednesday campaign in which she promotes the best businesses on Twitter to her 36,000+ followers. Ms Gold stays in touch with the winners and offers them advice and guidance in establishing themselves as a brand.
At RSM, the concept of women supporting other women is something we are particularly excited about. According to 'Under the Microscope', a report published by Prowess in 2015, existing female business owners are the most influential figures for women who are deciding whether or not to start a business; in other words, simply recognising and publicising women in business can have a snowball effect. Add to that, the Government Equalities Office recently reported [LINK] that 10% of women in the UK are currently considering starting a business.
There is no doubt that those 10% (and more) should be encouraged – a 2015 RBS report showed that boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £60bn extra to the UK economy. According to the report, this is because female entrepreneurs are more likely to create a product or service unfamiliar to the market, to have fewer competitors, and they are more likely to be using technology in their products or services than their male counterparts.
This week has seen public voting open for the 9th year of the European Business Awards, sponsored by RSM, and over the years there have been some shining examples of female entrepreneurship being celebrated among the great businesses in the programme. The European Business Awards exists to promote business excellence in Europe, and at this stage, we are getting a taste for the sheer variety of businesses involved. After witnessing the high level of quality of the entrants and meeting many of them, I am sure that one day there will be a European Business Awards winner named on the New Year’s Honour List.