A local ambassador for one of the major banking groups has called for businesses in the county to take a step back and review their progress in encouraging more women into leadership positions, ahead of International Women's Day this weekend.
Tara Foley, Lloyds Banking Group’s ambassador for the South East of England said: “Diversity in the workplace is vital in helping businesses prosper. It has a huge part to play in driving innovation, which can only be brought about by bringing together more diverse and inclusive teams to tap into new, fresh thinking.
“As always, International Women’s Day is a prime opportunity to take a step back and assess the lay of the land – not only when it comes to reviewing progress in encouraging women into more leadership positions, but also assessing the diversity agenda as a whole.
"According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the proportion of new female entrepreneurs grew by 45 percent in the last decade alone. But only about 17 percent of the start-ups today include at least one female founder. We need to accelerate this rate of change.
“Lloyds Banking Group is committed to gender diversity, and in 2014 made the first FTSE 100 commitment to increase the representation of senior women to 40% by 2020.
"It’s important for us to support larger organisations and SMEs alike to help drive the diversity agenda. For example, Ashford-based company Breakthrough Funding set up a quarterly networking event – Breakthrough Women – to encourage women to learn from their successful and challenging experiences in the workplace.
“Empowering women from a financial standpoint, as well as helping them to excel in the workplace, is an important factor in helping to reduce the gender gap.
“We have rolled out a number of measures to support our colleagues and customers in tackling issues related to domestic and financial abuse, from tools to supporting financial capability, to training programmes for colleagues to raise awareness and enable employees to better support each other and our customers.
“There are 1.2million SMEs led by women in the UK. Their contribution to the economy is vital, not just nationwide but at a local level too.”
International Women's Day takes place on Sunday, March 8.