WOMEN'S Enterprise Scotland (WES) has launched a training programme to improve gender-specific support among business advisors.

Launched to coincide with today’s International Women’s Day, the programme offers insight into gender-appropriate techniques and best practice to help staff develop effective plans, providing a route map for analysis and action planning.

Carolyn Currie, chief operating officer at WES said, “Women are clear about their business aspirations for growth and the value they place on women specific services. It is crucial that we unlock the economic opportunity represented by women in business and business advisors have a pivotal role to play in this.”

Business Gateway Fife and Business Gateway Edinburgh will be the first organisations to undertake the Business Advisor Gender Balance (BAGB) programme, with training starting at the end of March.

Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) said it had created BAGB to create a more gender-aware business support environment that provides business support staff with the knowledge and skillset to deliver a service which meets the needs of both men and women.

Calls have been made for a more effective ‘gender sensitive’ approach to policy-making and service delivery, with the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) stating, “there is a need to mainstream a gender sensitive approach in all entrepreneurship and growth policies, in order to consider, include and reflect the specific characteristics, needs and challenges of female entrepreneurs (both existing and would-be) and women’s businesses”.

Ms Currie added: “Our intention with the BAGB training and certification programme is to help business advisors in delivering gender-appropriate support, meeting and not missing end-user needs. It also provides a framework to manage gender based operational risk - including discrimination and unconscious bias – and optimises business resources to leverage return on investment.”