Tara Foley of Lloyds Banking Group on challenges faced on International Women's Day

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While the number of women in business is on the rise, much more needs to be done, according to one financial expert.

In a special article for the business section of KOL to coincide with International Women's Day, Tara Foley, ambassador for the south east for the Lloyds Banking Group explains why while progress has been made, "we still have a long way to go".

She writes: "The contribution made to UK plc by women is often overlooked and under estimated but has always been substantial.

Tara Foley (7643665)
Tara Foley (7643665)

"There are currently 1.2 million women-led SMEs in the UK, contributing over £70billion to the country’s economic output.

"While there are growing numbers of women taking up leadership positions at boardroom and government level, there are still considerable strides to be made. Empowering more women to start or lead a business and therefore diversifying the workforce makes good business sense.

"International Women’s Day is a prompt to level that playing field and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Women are still under represented at boardroom level
Women are still under represented at boardroom level

"Research from the BBC shows that women are confronted with more hurdles in the business world than their male counterparts with women holding just 27% of full-time chief executive and senior management roles; being half as likely to start their own business; and running only one in five small businesses.

"Last month, Lloyds Banking Group hosted a roundtable event at the House of Commons, which brought together MPs, peers and entrepreneurs to discuss the current business environment for women. It’s vital to understand how women trying to set up their own small businesses or social enterprises can be supported, so they can achieve their full potential in supporting the economic growth and social life of the country.

"However, change can’t happen overnight.

Women entering the world of business still find themselves facing tougher challenges than their male counterparts
Women entering the world of business still find themselves facing tougher challenges than their male counterparts

"We’re seeing businesses show their support by setting targets to promote women into senior management roles, whilst the LEP Network’s Women Leaders’ programme provides a platform to discuss how organisations might be more proactive in attracting women business leaders to LEP boards.

"We do still have a long way to go.

"For things to improve significantly, we need to see change from the top down, not only in London, but from a local perspective too.

"It’s up to industry leaders in their various fields to ask themselves how they can instigate these changes and to take a step back and review their business culture more generally. Whether it’s implementing flexible working for mothers or inspiring the next generation of women business leaders, local business leaders have their part to play."

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