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Why we’re proud to back the Investing in Women code

The Investing in Women code was set up to address barriers that prevent women entrepreneurs from accessing capital in the same numbers as men.

Although BGF invests far above the industry average in women-led businesses – in 2021, roughly a sixth of our invested capital went to companies with one or more female founder – we recognise there is still a long way to go before we achieve a gender balance.

Initiatives such as the Investing in Women code are an important stepping stone towards achieving a more just distribution of capital, and therefore unlocking the creativity and skill of women entrepreneurs across the UK and Ireland.

 

What is the Investing in Women code?

In 2019, the government tasked Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group, to oversee an independent review into female entrepreneurship. The conclusions were published in the Rose Review and included several startling findings. For example:

  • Only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female.
  • Only 5.6% of UK women run their own business, compared with 15% of women in Canada.
  • If women in the UK were to set up and scale businesses at the same rate as men, they would contribute an additional £250 billion to the economy.

Based on the report, the Investing in Women Code was established. It is an initiative for the providers of finance, such as banks, investment companies and venture capital firms. Together, signatories commit to breaking down barriers that prevent women entrepreneurs from accessing capital.

The Investing in Women code has recently published its 2022 report, which BGF is pleased to support.

 

Who is behind the Investing in Women code?

Founding signatories to the Investing in Women code include some of BGF’s bank shareholders, for example NatWest, Lloyds and Barclays. Bank of Ireland, which supports BGF in Ireland, was also a founding shareholder.

The list of signatories continues to grow. There are currently 160 – a number that has increased by 50% in the past year. The list includes 30 angel investing syndicates and over 100 venture and growth capital investors.

 

What do signatories to the Investing in Women code do?

Signatories share data with one another to help give an accurate picture of how much investment is provided to women entrepreneurs and to women-led management teams. They also share examples of good practice that have increased the amount of investment they have been able to provide to women entrepreneurs. Examples include: improving the application process to make it more accessible to women, creating specific networks for women entrepreneurs, and setting up accelerator programmes.

 

What does BGF do to support the Investing in Women code?

Our contributions to meeting the aims of the code include investing nearly £100 million in women-led companies in 2021. We also believe that, to support brilliant women entrepreneurs, it is necessary for us to employ women in senior roles. Currently, 52% of BGF employees are female. In 2021, 56% of all BGF hires were women.

On average, a fifth of deals in advanced stages of completion are in companies led by a female CEO. In addition, we run our ‘Scaling Up and Standing Out’ series aimed at creating local peer groups of women. We are a key partner in FundHerNorth’s programme of events.

Our efforts have been recognised by the ScaleUp Institute, which in 2021 named BGF the UK’s most active institutional investor in female-led scaleups for the third year in a row.

 

What women-led businesses does BGF support?

We have backed many brilliant female-led businesses. A snapshot includes:

Tania Boler, founder of Elvie

Elvie

Female technology (“femtech”) business Elvie, led by founder Tania Boler (pictured above), is at the forefront of creating world-class technology for women, such as the world’s first silent, wearable breast pump. In 2021, BGF was the lead investor in a £58 million funding round.

 

Katie Lopes and Nicola Piercy, co-founders of Stripe & Stare

Stripe & Stare

Founders Nicole Piercy and Katie Lopes are combining sustainability and fashion with an underwear brand that includes biodegradable knickers. In 2022, BGF led a £2.5 million investment round.

 

Rachel Pendered, managing director of Media Zoo, a BGF portfolio business

Media Zoo

Award-winning digital learning, film and communications company Media Zoo, led by managing director Rachel Pendered, is expanding internationally with the support of BGF, which invested in 2022.

 

 What our staff say about the Investing in Women code

“The Investing in Women code is one of many steps the investment industry can and must take to address the long-term lack of support for female entrepreneurs. At BGF, we are proud to have made a difference by investing more than £364 million in women-led businesses since 2011. But this is just the start of what we must do. If, as a society, we want to unleash the full dynamism of the UK and Irish economies, we need more role models, more case studies, all of which leads to more actual support of women entrepreneurs.”

Stephen Welton, executive chair, BGF

 

“The Investing in Women code is a crucial initiative to help unblock the obstacles preventing women entrepreneurs from reaching their potential. Diversity in business is crucial. Diverse teams make better decisions, are more creative, and contribute to more sustainable, long-term growth. This is one of many reasons why we work hard to back talented women entrepreneurs, and to introduce more talented women to BGF-backed portfolio businesses at board level.”

Cate Poulson, head of the BGF Talent Network

 

How do I join the Investing in Women code?

Organisations are eligible to become signatories if they provide debt or equity finance to businesses. Examples include banks, venture capital funds, private equity firms, angel investors and more. Code signatories are required to make a series of commitments including:

  • nominating a key individual to be responsible for supporting equality in interactions with women entrepreneurs;
  • adopting internal practices to improve female entrepreneurs’ access to tools, resources and finance;
  • providing data about the organisation’s activities, together with case studies of its work with women entrepreneurs.

Organisations that would like to become signatories should contact: investinginwomencode@beis.gov.uk

BGF Insights 06.30.2022
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