Pathways Pledge launched to support women in entrepreneurship

29/02/2024
Ana Stewart with Pathways Pledge partners in Edinburgh (by Stewart Attwood) All images © Stewart Attwood Photography 2023. All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission.

Pathways Pledge initiative launches with first signatories  

  • AccelerateHER, CivTech, CodeBase, Deloitte, Eos Advisory, Scottish EDGE, and Scottish National Investment Bank commit to actions aligned with the principles set out in Ana Stewart’s Pathways report

29 February 2024 – Pathways Forward has launched its Pledge initiative with leading organisations committing to actionable steps aligned with the principles set out in the Pathways report, with their performance measured over a 12-month period.  

AccelerateHER, CivTech, CodeBase, Deloitte, Eos Advisory, Scottish EDGE, and the Scottish National Investment Bank are the first members of Pathways Pledge, which is set to add more organisations over the months ahead.

Ana Stewart said: “The Pledge initiative is a key pillar of Pathways Forward.  Our focus is on consolidating efforts to drive change through collaboration, with each organisation contributing its share to achieve a greater collective impact.  I’m encouraged to have such a diverse group of organisations aligning with our objectives.”

The individual pledges are aimed to complement existing internal policies, and range from the capture and publication of enhanced gender data, gender diversity on selection panels, evidential increases in female participation rates, and the design of key programmes with integrated childcare.

“What we would also highlight”, continued Stewart, “is that this is not so much about implementing the 31 recommendations in the report, it’s about each player committing to positive actions that have an impact at a local level, driving behavioural change, influencing others including government to embrace the recommendations.” 

Pathways Forward was launched last September to drive an action-led approach towards realising the principles outlined in the Scottish Government-commissioned Pathways: A New Approach for Women in Entrepreneurship review, co-authored by Ana Stewart and Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial adviser to the Scottish Government, published in February 2023.

Ana Stewart said: “The severe gender imbalance in entrepreneurship and investment persists because the causes are structural and deep-rooted.  It requires engagement and action at a more profound level and across the entire landscape.  We need to challenge the way we think about tackling this issue in order to drive meaningful change.”

Last year, the Scottish Government accepted the findings of the Pathways report in their entirety, and subsequently launched a Pathways Pre-start Fund in September with 20 organisations now being supported including Dechomai, Digital Boost, Egg, Elevator, and Women’s Enterprise Scotland to action initial programmes across Scotland. 

Pathways Pledge partner quotes: 

Al Denholm, CEO, The Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “We support the recommendations within the Pathways Report which focus on the Bank. We pledge to share aggregated and anonymised data that tells us more about the diversity of those looking for investment from us, and we’ll work with our investee companies to help them embed best practice in their businesses. We have unique insight and knowledge that we’ll use to help advance equality, diversity and inclusion as both an investor and employer.”

Yasmin Sulaiman, VP of Partnerships for CodeBase, said: At CodeBase, we’re dedicated to opening up pathways to tech entrepreneurship for founders from all backgrounds. Through our work running the Scottish Government’s Techscaler programme, we work with partners across the Scottish tech ecosystem to achieve this.  So we’re really excited to be part of the initial group committing to the Pathways Pledge.”

“In 2024, we’ll focus on women founders who are looking to grow their tech startups, and actively improve the representation of women mentors and facilitators in our network. By embedding this work in our day-to-day activity, we hope to impact long-term change in the tech industry and support an ecosystem where women founders can flourish.”

Andrew McNeill, Managing Partner, Eos Advisory, said: “It’s important to see clear actions being taken on the back of the Pathways Review.  Eos is committed to being welcoming and engaging, both for female founder and female investors, but that doesn’t happen by itself and so our pledge actions include hosting a series of events to break down barriers for those who are interested in Scottish impact investing, as well as ensuring a diverse selection panel for reviewing all new opportunities.  We would like young and female founders to look at our portfolio and be excited to be a part of it.”

Elizabeth Pirrie, CEO, AccelerateHER, said: “AccelerateHER has been advancing and amplifying the incredible work of women founders for twelve years now. And with a number of programmes, accelerators, and learning initiatives now being offered across the ecosystem, collaboration has never been more important to connect women entrepreneurs with opportunities that are relevant and valuable to their stage of business.” 

“To meet our commitments within the Pathways Pledge, we will build new partnerships with organisations across the private, public, and third sectors; we will hone the opportunities we offer on the topic of investor readiness; and we will tap into the expertise of our sister organisation Investing Women Angels so that more women entrepreneurs can unlock the knowledge, mentorship and networks required to scale their businesses.”

Evelyn McDonald, CEO, Scottish EDGE, said: “Scottish EDGE is delighted to be part of an initial group, soon to be expanded, which has pledged to focus on measurable activities over the next year to encourage and support more women entrepreneurs. As part of our broader efforts, we have committed to charting the funding journeys for all our entrepreneurs and providing this data to the wider ecosystem so that the gap in investment between our male and female entrepreneurs is properly understood.”

Barbara Mills, Deputy Programme Director, said: “ At CivTech we recognise the issues raised by the Pathways report and see significantly less applications from female founders than male founders. At the same time, we know CivTech provides an excellent route into entrepreneurship and have some examples of the fantastic talented female founders who have built new businesses through CivTech Challenges. So, we have identified a range of actions we hope will increase application rates from women-led businesses or female entrepreneurs who can use CivTech as a springboard to either establish new ambitious businesses or secure funding that enable growth and scaling.”

Lesley Smillie, partner in the Public Sector team at Deloitte Scotland, said: “At Deloitte, we’re passionate about playing our part in creating an inclusive, more sustainable and successful Scotland through collaboration and innovative thinking. The Pathways Pledge aims to do just that by breaking down barriers to women in entrepreneurship. Together with other businesses in Scotland, we’re helping to make entrepreneurship accessible to all, which is why we’re so pleased to be among the first signatories of the Pledge.”

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