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Women lead the way in social enterprise

Despite making up just four per cent of leaders in Scotland’s top 500 companies, women are leading the way in the nation’s social enterprises.

Social enterprises are businesses which use the money made to tackle social problems, improve people’s life chances, support communities and help the environment.

Almost two-thirds of social enterprise leaders in Scotland are women according to data from the Social Enterprise in Scotland Census.

As social enterprise world leaders gather in Edinburgh for the Social Enterprise World Forum, Claire Carpenter, Founder of The Melting Pot, an Edinburgh-based charity which supports small social enterprises, commented:

Women have been historically and culturally shaped to expect and desire different roles, goals and outcomes than men.

Female entrepreneurs and leaders are applying their talents and energy through a social enterprise business delivery approach and through this are creatively tackling inequality of opportunity and market failures.

Celia Hodson, Founder of social enterprise Hey Girls which aims to eradicate period poverty, added:

People who start social enterprises often do so because they have spotted a problem – something that they want to fix.

The nature of social enterprise – finding creative solutions to challenging social problems – requires diverse leadership, and a diverse workforce. Social enterprises, by their nature, tend to be forward thinking. But I don’t believe it’s the case that only a woman could have set up a company like ours, or that only women can find solutions to ‘women’s problems’.

As a sector fighting for change, we need as many voices, from as many backgrounds as possible, helping to solve the problem.  Social enterprises should be led by everyone, for everyone. This starts with wider representation in leadership positions.

The Social Enterprise World Forum continues in Edinburgh until 14 September.

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.

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