Companies run by women are less likely to go bust

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KSA Group Limited,  has researched the UK SME market of over 4m businesses in an attempt to see if there was a gender bias on the board of companies that become insolvent. 

The study was designed to investigate if the insolvency rate was higher for male or female-run companies.  In the first study of its kind in the UK, companies were investigated to determine the gender of the board of companies that had either gone into administration or liquidation over the last twelve months, to see if there was any correlation between gender and the general financial health of a business.

Key findings

  • Insolvency rate is 70% higher in male-run companies
  • 8 times as many companies are run by men than women
  • There is little difference in the industry sectors of companies run by men or run by women
  • Only 12 out of 347 companies that went into administrations were female run.

It was found that the insolvency rate of male-dominated businesses was 0.34% and those in female-dominated businesses was 0.20%.  So, the insolvency rate is 70% higher in male-run businesses.  Most interesting was the difference in companies that were likely to go into administration as opposed to liquidation.  Administration is a more complex and costly insolvency mechanism and is more likely to be used on larger businesses which are disproportionally more male-dominated but, the fact being that out of 347 administrations in our data sets, only 12 were female-dominated.

What conclusions can we draw from these findings? 

Robert Moore at KSA Group said; “It is apparent that the insolvency rate is higher in male-run businesses, but this may be due to a number of factors that have nothing to do with whether men are inherently worse at running businesses than women.  It may well be that the businesses that tend to be more likely to become insolvent due to the nature of the industry or recent economic events are coincidently run by men.”

The study found that only real estate and letting businesses are overly represented in the data set of female-dominated businesses that have become insolvent.  See the pie charts below which have categorised businesses into the established Standard Industry Classification.

Female business

Male run businesses

So, are there any other reasons why we should not read too much into these figures and start saying that women are better at avoiding insolvency than men?

  • The difference in size of each data set is substantial, with only 1 in 8 SME businesses being run by 75% or more women. 
  • We have only analysed one year’s worth of data,
  • We have not taken into account all the types of businesses i.e. those with perhaps 2 women and one man on the board,
  • Single director companies are not included,
  • The data does not include businesses run by partnerships.


It is interesting to note however that this is a much higher ratio than even women on the boards of publicly listed companies.  Only 7 FTSE 100 companies have women as CEO’s, although they do makeup about 19% of directors of FTSE 100 companies


The full findings and further details on the study can be found at 

About ksagroup

He is managing director of Company Rescue Ltd and KSA Group Ltd - a specialist firm of turnaround practitioners. Keith has been featured in Mike Southon's column in the Financial Times and his book - This is How Yoodoo on entrepreneurs. 

More than 5,000 people have contacted KSA Group since Keith launched this unique website in 2000 and over 500 companies have now been directly assisted by the author over the last 15 years with assignments ranging from large multi national projects to small manufacturing companies, to simple advice over the phone.

For example, Keith ran a £500m sales company in an Administration plus CVA rescue in 2004 and that company (now much smaller) survives with sales over £100m or so. Keith has worked with much smaller concerns from £300k sales upwards and he is currently leading the turnaround of a £120m service company, (CVA).

Keith started his career as a retailer and experienced the savage recession of the 1990's first hand. This was before the banks had a planned approach to dealing with SME's failure. Close struggling businesses first; ask questions later was the response then. Of course this was driven by insolvency practitioners who wanted big fees.

So he learned a lot in a short time and thought "how can we help struggling businesses"?

He joined a specialist turnaround firm in London in 1994 and has helped set up two venture capital companies since, specialising in the distressed / turnaround sector. Since then he has focused on driving the delivery of free information to distressed business people and promoting the use of CVA's, innovative administrations and informal turnarounds.

Keith is a former director of the UK Turnaround Management Association and an associate of the Turnaround Finance Group.

There isn't much he hasn't seen, he is an entrepreneur and vastly experienced in turning around companies. Talk to Keith directly if you want.



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31st Aug 2018 15:58

Good grief - what a waste of someone's valuable time. Most of us are well aware that there are more men running businesses than women. And your heading is wrong by your own admission. Ineptitude is not a gender based matter, I find. I do wonder at KSA's own quality of management, carrying out such pointless research.

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to Moonbeam
03rd Sep 2018 16:23

I am sorry you but you have slightly misread the article. The insolvency rate IS higher in men run businesses and there is little difference in the profile of these businesses in terms of sectors. So there is a story here. So why would the rate (not the pure numbers ) be higher. I am caveating by saying this is not proof that women would be better but it is still a point of discussion.

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