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Anne Boden-led taskforce urges investment firms to set gender targets

Investment gender
Starling Bank founder Anne Boden chaired the women-led high-growth task force.

Investment firms have been urged to increase their transparency regarding the gender breakdown of top positions.

The recommendation came from the independent women-led high-growth enterprise taskforce, established in 2022 to identify the barriers for women in accessing high-growth capital and suggest solutions.

In its newly published report, the taskforce – chaired by Starling Bank founder Anne Boden – recommended investment firms set targets and publish data on the number of women in top positions.

The report said that gender diversity at an investment level would help establish a funding pipeline for women-led businesses, which receive a fraction of the investment received by male-led firms.

Data from the British Business Bank published last year claimed that for every £1 of equity investment in the UK, just 2p goes to fully female-founded businesses.

The taskforce therefore recommended investment firms set ambitious voluntary targets for the number of women in senior positions, with details about their efforts made publicly available on their websites.

The report also called for more support from the investment community for the Investing in Women Code, a voluntary commitment to support the advancement of female entrepreneurship.

The group said the code had already yielded promising results, with venture capital firms that signed the pledge being “significantly” more likely to invest in companies with at least one female founder.

Other recommendations in the report included examining regulatory opportunities to encourage diversity, the roll-out of female founder growth boards – groups of stakeholders tasked with delivering change within their ecosystem – across UK regions, improved diversity data collection and a greater emphasis on inspiring entrepreneurship among girls at a young age.

“I am incredibly proud to have chaired this task force, where a team of entrepreneurs and investors have been looking at ways to support female entrepreneurs,” said Boden, who stepped down as Starling CEO last year.

The women-led high-growth task force was established by former prime minister Liz Truss during her time as minister for women and equalities.

Last month it was revealed by meeting minutes that two founding members of the task force, Alex Depledge and Emma Sinclair, had resigned.

It was reported that sources claimed the resignations were out of frustration at slow progress at the taskforce.