Earlier this month, I read an article by LinkedIn named the 25 Most sought after Start Ups in the UK. Naturally, I draw to these type of articles to seek inspiration, knowledge, insight, and generally to look out for any companies or founders I may have heard of. I also use articles like this to discover new amazing start-up businesses and most importantly to just read about the success stories and the blueprints that these founders used to build their empires. However, upon my research, I found that most of the founders mentioned in this article had one thing in common. Most of them were white males.
It’s disappointing to see that there was no representation of neither men or women from the Afro-Caribbean community which would imply that Afro-Caribbean founders are not making waves in their respective fields which is absolutely not true. Especially when there are some great organisations out there, founded by those from the BAME community, that dedicate themselves to supporting, encouraging and elevating founders and start-ups in and beyond BAME communities, from all industries. Power Circle UK, Hustle and Heels Ladies Lunch, UK Black Business Show and Black Young Professionals Network are some amazing examples, to name a few. When I read articles which list the most “sought after” start-ups and black British talent is not recognised I ask myself, is it that we actually are not doing enough to sit amongst these companies or are we simply not even considered?
Of the 25 companies mentioned by LinkedIn, from industries ranging from banking, financial services, real estate, and sport and beyond, only two of the founders were women: Anne Boden from Starling Bank and Charlotte Tilbury, founder of Charlotte Tilbury Cosmetics. Yes, I named them on purpose. So, if society is moving forward with it’s attitudes to women in business, why isn’t the success of womens’ businesses moving forward too. The sad fact is that the problems that female founders face are largely due to institutionalised bias. We are battling progressing with societal bias: feminism is on the up, women’s employment and equal rights are coming forward on the global agenda, however, this work seems futile when some of the institutions that actually have the power to elevate female founders are systematically withholding financial opportunities from women. In 2018, the Entrepreneurs Network stated “that men are 86% more likely than women to secure venture capital funding. Women routinely receive fewer and smaller bank loans for their businesses – and they tend to be charged more. In aggregate, just 9% of U.K. start-up funding goes to women-run businesses.” Yep, you read that right. 9%.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers when it comes to balancing the inequalities and narratives when it comes to representation in the UK. I certainly did not make this post to discredit or undermine any of the wonderful hard work done by the founders mentioned in the LinkedIn article. My only solution is to recognise, uplift, shout out and most importantly work with amazing underrepresented founders and their businesses whenever I get the chance. I encourage you to do the same too 🙂