Women held back by ‘squeamishness’ over earning large sums, says Truss

Women are being held back in business because they are ‘squeamish’ about earning large sums of money, says Treasury minister Liz Truss

  • Research has found just 1 per cent of investment goes to women-only start-ups
  • The level compares to 89 per cent that goes to start-up with all-male founders
  • Treasury minister Liz Truss says women too often ‘squeamish’ about pay packets

Women are being held back in business because they are ‘squeamish’ about earning large sums, Liz Truss insisted today.

The Cabinet minister urged a culture change as she said it was too often seen as ‘vulgar’ to talk about making lots of money. 

The call came as research commissioned by the government found female-led start-ups get just a penny from every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK.

That compares with 89p that is invested in all-male founders, according to the British Business Bank. Mixed gender teams account for the remaining 10p.

It means businesswomen could be missing out on billions of pounds in funding, as companies with no women on their founding teams hoover up an estimated £5 billion a year.

Treasury minister Liz Truss (file picture) urged a culture change as she said it was too often seen as ‘vulgar’ to talk about making lots of money

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Ms Truss described the figures as ‘shocking’, but said women need to be less ‘squeamish’ about making money.

She told the Telegraph the funding process had to be ‘more open, more transparent and more meritocratic’.

‘It is shocking that in 2019 virtually 90 per cent of all funding is going to all-male teams. It’s not even going to mixed teams. For anyone looking in, it looks like men have a monopoly on getting that funding.’

However the minister said that women need to be ‘less squeamish about making money’.

She told the paper: ‘The culture is it is a bit vulgar to talk about money or to say you want to make a profit, but actually it’s a huge benefit to society and a huge benefit to yourself.’


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The research, undertaken with Diversity VC and the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), was originally commissioned by Philip Hammond in his 2017 Budget. It will inform ongoing Government work to boost untapped potential of businesses which are facing barriers.

The findings indicate that at current rates of change, it will take more than 25 years for all-female teams to receive 10p for every £1 of UK venture capital investment.

It identifies specific barriers faced by female-led firms in accessing venture capital.

Alice Hu Wagner, managing director of strategy and economics at the British Business Bank, said ‘seemingly simple solutions’ had proven to be flawed because ‘mandating female decision-makers risks tokenism’ while earmarking women-only money does not address ‘underlying closed networks and experience gaps’.

‘We need new approaches to addressing these issues and this report is just a first step,’ she added.

Ms Truss echoed the concern, telling the Telegraph: ‘Nobody wants for their business to be funded because they’re a woman.

‘They want to be judged on the basis of how good their ideas are, how hardworking they are, not the colour of their skin or their gender.’

The research, undertaken with Diversity VC and the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), was originally commissioned by Philip Hammond (file picture) in his 2017 Budget

 

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