Starling Bank boss Anne Boden criticised venture capital investors today over the growing gender funding gap, claiming they were only willing to back female-led companies “in so-called normal times”.
In her annual letter which outlined the bank’s priorities for the year, Boden cited data from Dealroom which showed that venture capital raised by women founders dropped from a record 2.4% in 2020 to 1.1% in 2021.
She wrote: “Why are we going backwards, when all the evidence points to the enormous benefits of diverse teams?
“Could it be that in so-called normal times, when there are fewer uncertainties, investors seem willing to “take a chance” on funding women? They do what is right because they know that people are watching.
“I suspect that changes during a crisis, in this case the pandemic. When all eyes are on clear and present dangers, do they expect less scrutiny and stop worrying about who is looking over their shoulder?”
Boden said it was important to raise the questions “in the interests of fairness and diversity and for the wider benefit of the start-up ecosystem.
Separate research released today by Innovate Finance, the fintech industry body, showed that UK female FinTech founders received 9% of all capital invested in 2021 – falling from 13% in 2019.