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Future Fund fails BAME and female-led businesses

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However the statistics were spun, the Future Fund hasn’t brought government financial support to black, minority and female-led startups. Is the extended scheme likely to be any different, asks Maddy Christopher.

6th Jul 2020
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On 30 June, the government extended the Future Fund to permit firms that took part in accelerator programmes to gain access to the tech startup support fund. According to the business and industry department, more than 320 early-stage firms gained access to £320m worth of loans through the scheme.

In a separate announcement, the Future Fund signed up to the government’s “Investing in Women Code.” The sentiment might be laudible, but the Future Fund take-up statistics indicate that more work will need to be done to get money into the hands of female and minority tech pioneers.

Diversity data recently released by the British Business Bank on the Future Fund confirmed the claims of critics who questioned its ethics and called for demographic data to be published. As they had predicted, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) founders were largely bypassed by the scheme. 

Twelve out of 252 companies approved for the Future Fund scheme had all-BAME management teams, compared to 109 companies with a 100% white management team. BAME includes all minorities, so there are no specific stats for black-led startups or any specific minority.

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Replies (7)

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By BryanS1958
09th Jul 2020 11:11

So if minorities are the best at something they get the role, take football and music as examples. But if there are better candidates they don't. Seems reasonable. I don't hear the majority complaining about being under represented in football and music and so on.

I have never made a decision to hire someone based on race, religion or gender, always on who I think is best for the role. I now have to tick a box to ensure I have the right percentage of each category, rather than making a selection based on who is best for the role, who is lower risk for the finance, etc? Bizarre.

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By coops456
30th Jul 2020 16:33

You are missing the point entirely, which is that many structures and practices in society leave certain groups at a disadvantage. Those groups don't even get in the room.

Gatekeepers of any kind - from employers to teachers, investors to politicians - need to recognise the unconscious bias that we all have, and the likely impact of it.

For example, if a firm has a policy to only interview and hire Oxbridge graduates, it will implicitly exclude working-class and ethnic minority candidates, who are under-represented at those universities.

I highly recommend Wilful Blindness by Heffernan, which looks at the issue in a general business context.

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By BryanS1958
31st Jul 2020 17:42

I am not missing the point entirely, as I say I choose the best candidate for the job. That is, or should be, the entire objective of the interview process.

I have no unconscious bias, I couldn't care less about their colour/religion, education or anything else that is irrelevant to the 'best for the job' decision. If I consider them to be the right person for the job then that's the basis of my decision, nothing else. I don't need some bureauprat to tell me that I have to have a certain percentage of this, that or the other, even if they are not the best for the job.

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Replying to coops456:
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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
01st Aug 2020 11:32

Racism exists, unconscious bias does not exist, it’s a theory with little empirical support. The test for unconscious bias (IAT) does not reach the standard for repeatability. No matter how impressive the trainer or the slides , unconscious bias is balderdash. You’re always conscious of prejudice in its many forms. University has been guilty of teaching conflict theory and various critical theories that spring from it (which have hijacked unconscious bias) with inadequate critique and without informing students of its Marxist roots. When considering why these ideas exist and have found there way into organisations, you always have to be mindful what Marxism has given to the world time and time again: death, murder, poverty. It’s a rotten idea that really needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
16th Jul 2020 09:22

When laws and similar instruments determine who has what job or office, thats marxism.

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By AndrewV12
05th Aug 2020 13:22

'The Future Fund requires startups to have already raised £250,000 of equity investment in the last five years'

Thats quite a barrier.

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By AndrewV12
05th Aug 2020 13:58

'The Future Fund requires startups to have already raised £250,000 of equity investment in the last five years'

Thats quite a barrier.

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