Women are set to play a central role in the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery, with evidence showing that companies with more female leaders outperform those dominated by men, according to a House of Commons study.

Accusing the government of ignoring women’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic and sidelining them in recovery plans, shadow secretary for women and equality Anneliese Dodds said data showed women held the key to a stronger economy, but they were held by a lack of investment and the risk of “childcare deserts” in some parts of the country.

“When you have more engagement from women, when women are in the driver’s seat to the extent that they should be, it makes businesses much more successful,” she said. “Our commitment is to consider women’s concerns and other equality issues from the outset. The problem with the current government is that they don’t even address women’s concerns in the end, they don’t consider them at all.

She warned the UK was facing a ‘childcare emergency’, with early years settings struggling to recruit staff and the Early Years Alliance reporting that parts of England have seen a drop 25% of the number of places over the past six years.

“The childcare industry is facing a short-term emergency, seeing childcare deserts in different parts of the country, with providers going bankrupt and unable to continue operating – this is impacting terrible on working women,” Dodds said. “Childcare providers are part of our economic infrastructure, we need to find a more sustainable path.”

To mark International Women’s Day, which takes place on Tuesday, Labor has gathered data from the House of Commons library. He cited McKinsey research that shows companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in leadership teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies at the bottom, while companies with more than 30% of female executives were more likely to outperform companies that don’t, according to research by academics from the universities of Glasgow and Leicester.

But only eight women, and no women of color, are currently employed as CEOs in the FSTE 100, while women hold just 14% of top management positions and 38% of all leadership positions, according to the Sex and Power 2022 from the Fawcett Society.

Data shows that women-led SMEs contribute around £85bn to economic output, but Beis research shows that only 16% of small business employers and one in three entrepreneurs are women. There is also evidence that fewer women have access to business finance and loans, with only 15% of bank finance applications and 22% of new business bank account openings coming from women.

Dodds said Labor would create 100,000 government-backed start-ups with an ‘equal takeover pledge’ guaranteeing women’s representation, strengthen the pay gap reporting system and give a ‘new contract’ to women. working women.

“Unless we really support women in business, we are going to lose a huge amount of potential additional economic activity and prosperity, which all of our communities really need,” she said.

New global data from gender equity researcher Equileap, published for IWD, shows that in the UK women make up just a fifth (20%) of senior management team members, 13 companies (6%) have a female CEO and 27 companies (13%) have a female CFO.

NatWest is the only company with both a female CEO and a CFO. The analysis also revealed that the UK is one of the worst performing countries when it comes to flexible working options, with only 29% of companies publishing a flexible working hours policy and only 18% publishing a flexible working hours policy. flexible location.