A PROMINENT business group has called for action to boost the number of female-owned enterprises in Scotland.

While steps are being taken to tackle the gender pay gap and increase the number of women in boardroom roles, Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) declared the “gender gap in enterprise persists”. WES wants to end the status quo where women-owned businesses account for 20 per cent of Scotland’s business base and less than 5% of account-managed growth companies. It noted that the £5 billion of economic output that women-owned businesses currently contribute to the Scottish economy would increase by £7.6bn if women started enterprises at the same rate as men.

Speaking on the eve of International Women’s Day, WES chair Lynne Cadenhead said: “While progress has been made to address gender gaps in employment and in the boardroom, the gender gap in enterprise persists. It is simply not acceptable that many women-owned businesses are unable to access growth and innovation support. Transformative change is needed to create a gender-balanced and forward-thinking business landscape.”

Ms Cadenhead highlighted steps being taken in Canada, where the government has set aside sums to back female entrepreneurs and to invest in women-led technology firms.