ACCOUNTANCY giant EY, which last year issued a report calling for gender parity in leadership roles, has included just four women in the 23-strong shortlist for the Scottish section of its 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Clintec International chief executive Rabinder Buttar, Beattie Communication Group chief executive Laurna Woods, Flow Hospitality Training creative director Ruth Wither and Spectrum Service Solutions managing director Sara Speirs have been listed alongside 19 men, meaning just 17 per cent of shortlist slots have been allocated to female business leaders.

This comes despite EY last year issuing a report entitled The time for gender parity is now, in which it said immediate action including “illuminating the path to leadership” and “eliminating conscious and unconscious bias” was needed to get to the point where “companies and governments are equally led by men and women”.

“Knowing what top jobs are open to them, combined with an environment that expects women to occupy leadership roles, helps junior women see and believe in the path before them,” the report said.

While the Entrepreneur of the Year shortlist is dominated by male candidates, EY partner Mike Timmins said the business is focused on “attracting a large number of female business owners to enter our programme in Scotland”.

“We know more can be done by working in collaboration with others, to help improve the representation of female entrepreneurs taking part in our programme and women in leadership positions in the business community,” he said.

“EY works with business support organisations and advisors in Scotland to encourage a diverse group of business leaders to enter our programme. We specifically approach female-led businesses who have impressive success stories to share.”

The judging panel for the awards is made up of three men and three women.