women-in-boardroomThe Women’s Business Council (WBC) yesterday (4 June) launched a Government report on maximising women’s contribution to economic growth.

Chaired by Ruby McGregor Smith CBE, Chief Executive of FTSE250 strategic outsourcing company, MITIE, the WBC is an independent one year working group established by the Government in 2012.

Its report, ‘Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth’, looks into addressing the obstacles at all stages of women’s careers, such as broadening career choices, helping to access childcare and providing the necessary skills to start new businesses.

Commenting on the WBC’s work, Ruby McGregor Smith CBE, said:

“The work of the Women’s Business Council could not be more timely. Our recommendations are for both Government and the business community, and cover every stage of women’s working lives.

“I am passionate about making sure obstacles for women to work at different stages of their careers are removed, and UK business has a hugely important role to play in achieving this.”

The report revealed there are more than 2.4 million women who are not in work but want to work, and over 1.3 million women who want to increase the number of hours they work.

In order to change this, the WBC states the UK needs to “unblock this mismatch” and “optimise the potential” to help the economy.

It also states that it’s unacceptable that highly skilled and talented women continue to remain behind men in the workplace and says more help is needed for female workers to get ahead in business and that employers should be urged to hire more women over 50.

Stating that there has never been a more important time to fully capitalise on the skills and talents of all people, regardless of gender, Ruby McGregor-Smith said:

“We need to ensure that at every stage of a women’s career she has the opportunity to learn skills, develop and contribute in a dynamic business environment.

“If we can achieve this, we will unblock the talent pipeline that for so long has restricted women from reaching the most senior levels in business – and we will deliver economic growth.”

McGregor-Smith added:

“Our recommendations are for both Government and the business community, and cover every stage of women’s working lives.

“Our actions must start with girls and young women if we are to make a lasting impact.

“We must also ensure that parents, who wish to return to their careers while raising families, have the opportunity to do so and to fulfil their potential.”

The WBC report’s key findings and recommendations for Government and business are:

  • that there is an overwhelming business case, supported by strong evidence, for maximising women’s contribution to growth;
  • that we need to broaden young women’s aspirations and job choices before the start of their working lives by creating a partnership between schools, businesses and parents;
  • business needs to embrace the benefits of flexible working and understand how best to support working parents in the second stage of their career;
  • women in the third phase of working life offer great untapped potential;
  • there is a strong case for providing more support for women who want to setup their own businesses.