Enterprise Promotion
Tina Boden, a third generation self-employed business woman with over 20 years’ experience running businesses in hospitality, construction, and retail, and co-founder of micro business community Enterprise Rockers, was staggered to discover blatant sexism recently on a site apparently dedicated to helping improve the online presence of small businesses – except it was only open to male business owners. Boden says:

“I couldn’t quite believe what I saw. Sexism in the work place is a big issue but sexism when you run your own micro business single-handedly can be even more demoralising.”

Erika Watson, Founder of Prowess, an online centre for women in business says:

“Thanks to women like Caroline Criado-Perez women are not putting up with this kind of thing anymore. Why should we? Imagine if race or disability instead of gender? It is completely unacceptable.”

Dr Charlotte Carey, senior lecturer and researcher on gender differentials in entrepreneurship in creative industries at Birmingham City University is surprised at just how rife gender inequality is across creative industry sectors, saying:

"Some of the new creative sectors such as software design, and computer games, as well as TV and film appear to be very male dominated particularly in management, technical and creative roles. Whether blatant sexism is at play is harder to pin down, however that may also be because there is possibly fear in terms of explicitly suggesting this."

It appears, however, that sexism, isn’t the only issue women face when running their businesses - sizeism is equally prevalent, and the more micro you are, claims Boden, the more invisible you become:

“To be recognised as a trading business by UK government, you either have to be VAT registered, operate as a limited company, or employ staff. Many women business owners, whether for lifestyle reasons, or increasingly to help make ends meet, are working hard to balance running a home, caring for children, and running their own business - often from home. If they do not fit the criteria as a ‘trading’ business they become ‘invisible’. In the York, North Yorkshire, and East Riding region alone there are more than 30,000 of these ‘invisible’ businesses, with Leeds City Council estimating around 15,000 in their area, with a high percentage run by women in rural locations.”

Boden argues that every business owner should be counted no matter how micro they are, and recognised for their contributions not just to local communities but to economies on a regional and national basis too. These are business owners who are not claiming benefits, but improving their well-being and giving back to local communities and economies, yet as well as not being recognised, 95% of all government funding (that’s over £30 billion) goes to businesses who employ 10 or more staff, leaving the 4.6 million micro businesses scrabbling around for the remaining 5%.

Erika Watson agrees with Boden stating:

“This blatant small business sexism is easy to condemn, but the same kind of thinking essentially underpins much government small business policy making. Investment and support has increasingly focused on male-dominated sectors, such as transport and construction, with no plan to increase women’s employment there. What about the social infrastructure and care economy, where women’s businesses dominate and which is also essential oil for economic equality?”

Boden argues that Sizeism and Sexism has got to stop.  With 80% of the new self-employed between 2008 and 2011 being women[1] and that figure continuing to grow, a level playing field for women in business and micro businesses is needed. To that end, Boden is now in the early stages of developing a collaborative campaign to help highlight sexism and sizeism in micro business.

--- ENDS--

Notes to Editor

A screen shot taken by Tina Boden of the web site mentioned at the start of this release is available.

About Tina Boden
Tina is 3rd generation self-employed, a micro business specialist, and independent business ambassador. She is co-founder of Enterprise Rockers – a global self-help community of micro businesses.

About Dr Charlotte Carey
Dr Carey is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries Marketing at Birmingham City University, and has undertaken extensive research on gender differentials in entrepreneurship in the creative industries.

About Prowess

Prowess is the online centre for women in business, providing top-quality information, resources and directories of local, women-friendly business support and networks. Prowess helps business support providers to improve their services for women and produced the UK Government’s first strategy for women’s enterprise development in 2003.
Erika Watson is Founder of Prowess.

About Enterprise Rockers
Founded in 2012 by Tony Robinson OBE and Tina Boden, Enterprise Rockers is a free to join, independently funded community interest company dedicated to making life better in micro business.

[1] http://www.prowess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/women-in-business-infographic.jpg

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