Theresa May-backed Women's Business Council says more needed to unlock contribution of female workers to the economy

Mark Sands
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Theresa May launched the Women's Business Council while home secretary in 2012. (Source: Getty)

A high-profile government advisory group has hailed progress on roles for women in business, but says there is still more to do.

Theresa May established the Women Business Council while home secretary, and four years after its creation WBC chair Cilla Snowball has warned that despite significant victories, more progress must be made.

Household names including Centrica, Mars, Vodafone and Barclays were also singled out for praise by the WBC for their work on supporting returning mothers and helping older women start new careers.

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Snowball said: “Working with government and businesses across the country, the council has helped to drive more women to choose [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects at school and university, we have businesses pioneering fantastic returner schemes to get older women back on the career ladder and establishing better support for working mums.

“There is much more to do to level the playing field and unlock the untapped growth potential that women offer to our economy. We have a clear plan of action, great business practice that’s helping to lead the way and legislative changes coming into force. I am excited to see what we can achieve over the next three years.”

Snowball, who also runs advertising firm AMV BBDO, took on the roll in July, telling City A.M. at the time that she would push for “business-led and government-backed” change.

In particular, the WBC is hoping to increase numbers of male business leaders becoming agents for change, as well as providing support for establishing and emerging female entrepreneurs.

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Caroline Dinenage, minister for women equalities and early years said: “It’s fantastic to see the progress that’s been made over the past three years and the government is committed to going even further, with employers being required to publish their gender pay and bonus gaps for the first time ever from April next year.

“The benefits of helping women to unlock their talents are huge – eliminating the gender pay gap could add £150 billion to our annual GDP in 2025. That’s an opportunity that neither government nor businesses can afford to ignore.”

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