UK & Ireland
August 25, 2016


A new paper from the BBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Business Council (DIBC), whose members include WEConnect International Executive Director for Europe Maggie Berry, has outlined seven key initiatives that could help businesses run by ethnic minorities and women (EMWs) realise their full growth potential.

Growth and Diversity: Meeting needs, seizing opportunities highlights how ethnic minority businesses are estimated to contribute £25-32 billion to the UK economy per year, while women-led enterprises contribute around £70 billion. The paper notes, however, that ethnic minorities and women are seen as under-represented as entrepreneurs, and to have lower levels of business performance.

The paper sets out steps to improve Government policy and tackle barriers to growth for EMWs. Key recommendations include:

  • Focus on growth – enterprise policy should encourage women and ethnic minority entrepreneurs to enter high value-added sectors.
  • Provide local support – local-level targeted enterprise support is likely to be more effective than a national ‘one size fits all’ policy of intervention.
  • Advocacy and promotion of EMWs – the Government should consider establishing a central resource for the provision of thought leadership and best practice for ethnic minority and women-owned businesses.
  • Diversity proofing policy and practice – Government should monitor operations to obtain evidence as to which groups are being engaged in central and local work, and which are being excluded from these initiatives.
  • Support and widen ethnic minority business networks – more should be done to consult ethnic minority business networks on national and local government decisions, as well as improving their connections with wider business networks.
  • Putting diversity on the agenda – enterprise support agencies need to ensure that they take into account the needs of their local minority businesses in developing their priorities.
  • Support the widening of access to markets – efforts to widen access to markets should include every UK Trade & Investment overseas mission should ensure a good proportion of the delegation is drawn from businesses run by women and ethnic minorities.

Professor Monder Ram from Birmingham University, co-chair of the DIBC, said: “Evidence of the economic and social contribution of migrants, ethnic minorities and women to entrepreneurship continues to accumulate. It’s vital that this contribution is recognised by policy-makers and institutions charged with supporting entrepreneurship in the UK. My colleagues and I on the BBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Business Council are determined to ensure the issue of minority entrepreneurship is placed at the centre of the small business agenda.”

Professor Sara Carter from Strathclyde University, co-chair of the DIBC, added: “This report highlights the importance of women-owned and minority-owned businesses to the UK economy, and shows the important steps that can be taken to best support diverse firms. As the report demonstrates, this isn’t simply about government action; the private sector has a role too, particularly in the areas of mentoring and in supporting firms in accessing new markets.”

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, RBS, said:

“An enormous contribution is made by companies run by women and ethnic minorities, both to society and to our economy, so it’s important we help them succeed. It is also important to recognise that some groups face unique challenges in business, and that specialist help can really make the difference. For example, at RBS we are training our bankers to be Women in Business accredited so they can provide tailored support. This includes networking opportunities and mentoring to female business owners, tackling the different issues they face, helping them build successful businesses and fulfil their potential.”
The DIBC is made up of leading women and ethnic minority entrepreneurs, business organisations, banks, Trusts, academics and specialist skills groups. It provides a chance to explore enterprise diversity challenges and opportunities based on robust evidence with the key goal of strengthening knowledge, shaping policy and providing innovative practical solutions.

The full paper is available here.