Leader Views


Posted on:
7th March, 2020

"In the UK, we are behind the curve in supporting our female entrepreneurs".

A champion of the value of women in business, Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise and Community Finance at NatWest, is bringing her passion for supporting those from less privileged or disadvantaged backgrounds to her new role as an Enterprise M3 LEP Board Director.

"In the UK, we are behind the curve in supporting our female entrepreneurs".

“If there is one thing I have learned from my career in the commercial and banking world, it is that we need the creativity and innovation that comes from diversity to keep up with the rapidly changing world around us.
It was my privilege to work as a Business Lead on the Rose Review which identified the many barriers women face in business and to look at what can be done to overcome the challenges.

Here in the UK, we are behind the curve in supporting our female entrepreneurs. We might be the Start-Up capital of Europe but just 5.6% of our women run their own companies, compared to 15% in Canada, 11% in the US and 9% in Australia.

And the result is that the UK economy is losing out.  Published to co-incide with International Women’s Day last year (2019), the Rose Review identified that boosting female entrepreneurship could add £250bn to the economy.

That is why I feel is so important we get more women onto LEP Boards. LEPs are working incredibly hard to improve the economic outlooks for their regions, developing Local Industrial Strategies to boost productivity. Yet we know that female entrepreneurs are under represented in high-value sectors such as IT, communications, financial services and manufacturing.

If we are to achieve the goals set out in the Industrial Strategy, increasing GVA and improving the lives of our local residents and workers, our tactics need to include supporting female entrepreneurs to achieve the necessary diversity and different perspectives which help to drive innovation.

There is much that can be done. We know that women are often held back by access to capital funding, by their caring responsibilities and by their perceptions of not having the right skills to succeed in business. We also know that these barriers can be overcome with a greater emphasis on supporting women returners and those with caring responsibilities, increased support from private investors and an expansion of mentoring and networking opportunities.

I am particularly passionate about the rollout of Young Enterprise courses to schools and colleges. Our next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs are being formed now and we must challenge any cultural barriers which restrict their opportunities.

I am excited by the opportunity presented by my new role as an EM3 Board director to achieve these goals. My first EM3 board meeting was a revelation – such a depth of experience and knowledge brought to the table by a range of directors, all of whom were able to contribute collaboratively to the LEP’s decision-making. 

The outcome will be joined-up action from the private and public sectors to developing an ecosystem which supports a diverse range of entrepreneurs, breaking down the barriers to achieving aspiration and unlocking the potential in our economy.

I hope that other women business leaders who feel motivated to make a difference will also take the step towards becoming involved in their local LEP Boards and make the UK a better place for business.”

Julie, who is also an Enterprise Ambassador, personally mentors a number of businesses and young people.  Last year she was recognised for all the work she does on the Women in Business and Social Enterprise Agenda receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Financial Alliance for Women Annual Summit and was winner of the Financial Services National Mentoring Award.

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