Seven organisations have become the first in Scotland to sign up to a ‘pledge’ to support women in entrepreneurship.

A mix of companies and public sector bodies have lent their signatures to the Pathways Forward following government adoption of 31 equalities-driven business recommendations.

AccelerateHER, CivTech, CodeBase, Deloitte, Eos Advisory, Scottish EDGE, and the Scottish National Investment Bank joined the initiative with more due to sign up in the months ahead.

The pledge came about following businesswoman Ana Stewart’s Pathways report, which called on ministers to help increase the participation of women in entrepreneurship roles.

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.”

As part of the pledge, organisations will commit to ‘actionable steps’ aligned with the principles set out in the Pathways report, with their performance measured over a 12-month period.  

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 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,” Stewart added.

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.

Stewart added: “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.

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.”