SMEs admit they are not gender diverse, survey reveals

Over half (52%) of SME owners in the UK would not class their businesses as ‘gender diverse’, despite 65% feeling that enough is being done to encourage women into their sector. The results were obtained from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that questions over 900 UK SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors and regions.

“It’s encouraging that businesses are honest enough to admit that, from a gender perspective, they aren’t currently diverse enough,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing“Encouragingly, nearly two thirds of businesses feel steps are being taken to bring more balance to the workforce.”

Regionally, 62% of Northwest England SMEs said they would class themselves as ‘gender diverse’, while in the East Midlands, the positive result was only 32%. In the South East, the figure was 50%.

There was also a direct correlation between a business’s turnover and their likelihood to have a higher proportion of female workers. 

Recruitment of women

When asked the question ‘does your company actively strive to recruit more women?’ the results were less positive, with only 32% answering ‘yes’ and the remainder ‘no’. 

“An important caveat to this finding is that the smaller the company’s size, the less likely they were to answer ‘yes’,” continued Neil. “Given the sectors we surveyed, this should come as no surprise because industries like engineering have long struggled to become more diverse, and not through a lack of trying.”

Sector results 

The sector that saw themselves most diverse was print at 53%, followed by manufacturing at 48%; engineering 45%; transport 37% and construction at 33%.