Emily Cox for Lloyds at the Gateshead Branch. Photo: John Millard/UNP.

Nearly three quarters of women-owned businesses in the North West are concerned about not having equal opportunities compared with male-owned firms.

A new report from Lloyds Bank surveyed 600 women from differing business sectors across the North of England, including 200 in the North West, to better understand the challenges and opportunities for women.

The report, entitled Women Entrepreneurs: The Northern Perspective report*, revealed that despite almost two thirds of women-led businesses in the North West noting an increase in annual turnover during the past 12 months, several factors were creating barriers to growth and contributing to future worries.

The data revealed that the main concerns when running a business included competition , economic downturn , the rising cost of raw materials  and supply chain issues .

The main worries around aspects of their business’ finances included funding growth and scaling up their business , future resilience against another crisis such as Covid-19 , and managing cash flow .

When asked about their views compared with their male counterparts, almost three quarters  are concerned about not having equal opportunities while more than two thirds  are concerned about identifying as a women-owned business.

While barriers to growth are evident, women-led firms in the North West are embracing potential growth opportunities and have identified key areas of support needed to help their businesses.

Currently, those surveyed are looking for support to help them find new clients , retain talented employees , develop digital skills , improve leadership skills  and gain access to specific women business networks for advice.

Over the next 12 months, three in five  want additional training for staff, more than half want financial support and more than a thirdneed help in preparing a growth strategy.

Almost a third  also feel increased flexible working would help their business while nearly a fifth want help to adopt low carbon measures.

Emily Cox, Regional Ambassador for the North at Lloyds Banking Group said: “The results clearly demonstrate that women business leaders still face challenges related to their gender and we need to go further to help gender parity when it comes to building and contributing towards the economy.

“That’s why I’m so pleased that we’ve undertaken this research to get meaningful data to spark even richer and more productive conversations with leaders across the North.

“From addressing concerns about being taken more seriously, to work-life balance and Net-Zero, we want to empower women by giving them the support and tools needed to unlock their full potential. And we’re not just talking the talk. Here at Lloyds Banking Group, we’ve been recognised as a Times Top Employer for Women for the past decade and have set a target to ensure 50% of our senior roles are filled by women by 2025.

“We’re working to build an inclusive future for everyone and with this data, focus on helping women in the North. To support this we have a host of free support including mentoring programmes, digital and business skills training, and practical guides for SMEs wanting to become more sustainable.”


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