Recent research by Sage serves as a stark reminder that, despite some progress, inequality is a challenge many women face daily.
With female business builders making up nearly 40 per cent of the global workforce , any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.
The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. However, the research identified a worrying trend of inequality: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.
Out of the 11 regions surveyed globally, women in six of those regions reported higher instances of being paid late. Importantly, this is not just about payments becoming overdue because one in 10 are eventually written off as bad debt.
Small businesses are not able to absorb these costs or the lost hours spent on admin and the result can be disastrous. In the next 12 months, one in four female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive.
From the moment they start-up, female entrepreneurs are faced with more discrimination factors than men – it is now endemic. Research from The Entrepreneurs Network found that only nine per cent of funding into start-ups in the UK went to women-run businesses. Men are 86 per cent more likely to be venture-capital funded and 56 per cent more likely to secure angel investment. Recently published findings from Unilever Foundry show that 39 per cent of female founders frequently encountered sexism while running their business.
The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of this wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments among female entrepreneurs – more so than men.
There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.
Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.
Kerry Agiasotis, Executive Vice President, Sage Software Asia Pacific