Co-operative Bank commits to invest in women

‘Breaking down gender barriers could add billions to the UK economy’

The UK’s Co-operative Bank is amongst several major financial institutions that have signed up to the ‘Investing in Women Code’, which aims to increase the number of British female entrepreneurs. 

The Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, TSB, Metro Bank, Nationwide and the Bank of Ireland UK also signed the code, alongside a number of venture capital firms. While no longer owned by the Co-op Group, over the last four years the Co-op Bank has made an investment of £1.3m in the Hive, a co-op business advice and support programme provided by Co-operatives UK.

HM Treasury has released a logo to highlight institutions who have signed up to back female entrepreneurs

The Investing in Women Code is a commitment to support female entrepreneurship in the UK by improving women’s access to the advice, resources and finance needed to build a business.

It comes after an independent review – commissioned by the Treasury and headed up by Alison Rose, Deputy CEO of NatWest – identified barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and what could be done to overcome them. 

The Rose Review found that only one in three entrepreneurs are women, and that businesses run by women are on average half the size of firms led by men.

Signatories to the Investing in Women Code will have a nominated member of their senior leadership team who is responsible for supporting equality in all interactions with entrepreneurs. And each organisation will provide the Treasury with data on all-female-led businesses; mixed-gender-led businesses and all-male-led businesses, which the Treasury will publish in an annual report.

They have also agreed to adopt internal practices that aim to improve the potential for female entrepreneurs to successfully access the tools, resources, investment and finance they need to build and grow their businesses – and review these practices annually.

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Speaking at the launch of the Investing in Women Code, exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Breaking down gender barriers could add billions to the UK economy. I’m pleased to see so many of our major banks and venture capital firms support the code, and I call on others to follow suit.

“It’s shocking that only one in three entrepreneurs are women, and I hope that today’s commitment signals a turning point in attitudes towards investing in female-led businesses.”