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2022 Winner: The Gender Index, Best SME D&I Innovation Award

news published date 18 November 2022
  • Awards
The Best SME D&I Innovation – Gender Equality Award was sponsored by Cynergy Bank

Gender Index, founded by mnAI Data Solutions Ltd, is a groundbreaking new interactive tool which, for the first time ever, provides gender disaggregated data freely accessible to the public through an interactive website,

It has recently published the largest research study into female entrepreneurship ever undertaken, which accurately measures the number of female-led companies and their impact on the UK economy.

Access to reliable data is at the core of driving forward and influencing the support that the UK financial services sector along with government and regional public authorities can offer female entrepreneurs. The Gender Index will be used by multiple stakeholders from across the support agencies along with female entrepreneurs to analyse the market across the regions to help support the levelling up agenda. AI-powered, it holds live data on more than 4m active UK companies, constantly refreshed and always up to date.

In 2019, the Rose Review identified that an additional £250bn could be contributed to the UK economy simply by empowering more women to start and grow companies. Currently 16.8% of all active UK companies are female led. Female-led high-growth companies lag significantly behind their male counterparts and the percentage of those that successfully raise capital from investors is even lower. There is a significant amount of work to do to address this imbalance and, having access to real time data is at the core of how to build strategies and evidence impact.

NatWest Group has been working with mnAI and The Gender Index Team for several years. NatWest has been Ggender disaggregating their data since 2016, however, easily accessible external data has always proven more challenging to acquire. Never before has NatWest had access to real-time accurate data which is helping to shape the bank’s strategy at both a national and regional level. Now, there is visibility against customer data across a range of metrics such as sector, regionality, business size, ownership levels.This data will be used to build propositions to support more female entrepreneurs and to increase market share but also to support the wider UK agenda to achieve the £250 billion economic opportunity if women set up and scale businesses at the same rate as men.

NatWest has an established Women in Business Strategy that was launched in 2003 and has more than 1000 externally trained front-line Women in Business specialists supporting female entrepreneurs through every stage of their business life cycle. The Gender Index allows NatWest staff and partners to work with this data to build highly effective bespoke levels of local service to really support female entrepreneurs in a way not achieved to date.

The number one barrier cited in the Rose Review for Female Entrepreneurship in 2019 was access to finance. The review has sought to address this with the Investing in Women Code, which now has more than 160 signatories from major financial service providers. At the core of this report is access to reliable real time data. Research to date has been reported on historical data and trends. The Gender Index is the missing link and allows everyone access to the same real time data points updated immediately. The dashboard will show where in the UK there are more female entrepreneurs and will also give visibility of where funding (such as venture capital funding) is more accessible as opposed to traditional debt financing. There will be visibility of any macro trends emerging such as a shift in the sectoral balance between male and female entrepreneurs.

The Gender Index’s independent expert steering committee will be updated quarterly on impact against key metrics and to challenge the Chair and senior leadership team on its impact to date. It is also anticipated that The Gender Index will report at least annually to The Rose Review Board.

Stakeholders include the UK Government, The Rose Review for Female Entrepreneurship, NatWest, Goldman Sachs and leading UK universities. The Gender Index is a truly collaborative industry-lead innovation which has the power to transform the way the UK Economy collects and analyses data to support a more equal future.