Businesses slow to recognise female entrepreneurs

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According to research from workplace provider Regus, 82% of Kiwi business professionals reported an increase in all types of entrepreneurship in the past five years – but only seven per cent believed there was an increase in female entrepreneurs.

“The perception level of seven per cent is disappointingly low,” said Regus New Zealand country manager Nick Bradshaw.

“The reality could be very different, however the fact that businesses believe we have a very small number of entrepreneurs among females is disappointing and it does show that we have quite a gap to bridge and a long way to go to change the perception out there of female leaders in business in New Zealand.”

He said that intrapreneurship – “being a creative agitator within a larger network or within a business and being a self-motivated, free-thinker within a corporate environment” – was also on the rise.

“Any corporate can do what they’re doing better and change the margin, but it’s really only the businesses that truly embrace the intrapreneur that can get an advantage over competitors in the marketplace by being innovative and growing in new areas that their competitors aren’t currently doing.”

Anecdotally, Bradshaw said that women played a key role in intrapreneurship in New Zealand.

“Quite often, what I see is that the intrapreneur is very strong in navigating around the bureaucracy and the political inertia in larger businesses and that is not always an overt way of doing things.
Often that’s subtle changes and using your intelligence and communication skills, which, from experience, female workers are often very good at.”

The research also showed that the top strategies to foster innovation within businesses included mixing staff from different functions (51%), access to senior management (46%) and skills updating programmes (44%).

Giving staff the opportunity to work across locations or to their own schedules through flexible working was also highlighted as a key driver (37%).

“There were other measures that were a bit more innovative and potentially risky – Google gives staff 20% of their working time to work on their own projects. It’s quite aspirational in the normal workplace at the moment,” said Bradshaw.

“The businesses that are willing to innovate, both from an entrepreneur and an intrapreneurship perspective, are the businesses to look out for. I think there are going to be some really interesting movers in the market in the future.”

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