Women's Business Council

The Women’s Business Council was established in 2012 to advise on how women’s contribution to economic growth could be improved. They report to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, and are supported in their work by the Government Equalities Office.


  • To focus on areas with the greatest economic benefit
  • To make recommendations, with a clear economic case for action, to business, government and others
  • To support the Government’s strategy for business

Report and Findings

The Council considered the business case for women’s economic participation and presented a report to Government.

This ground-breaking report found:

  • If we could make men’s and women’s economic participation equal, this could lift GDP by 10%, by 2030.

  • If women were setting up and running new businesses at the same rate as men, we could have an extra one million female entrepreneurs.

The Council published its wide-ranging report and recommendations in June 2013. In November 2013, the government responded with an action plan.

The Council continues to manage the business recommendations being provided, raise the profile of the Council’s priorities and champion best practice.


The Council has produced a number of publications:

Council Members

The Council is chaired by Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, CEO of Mitie Group.

Its members are all business people, working in a range of sectors including; advertising, recruitment, enterprise, retail, legal, financial and pharmaceutical. They have been brought together to achieve this goal. They bring with them experience in business and a commitment to equal opportunities for women.

  • Cilla Snowball, CBE, Group Chairman and Group CEO, AMV BBDO
  • Eddie Gray, CEO of Dynavax Technologies, formerly President of Pharmaceuticals Europe, GSK
  • Fiona Woolf, partner at CMS Cameron McKenna specialising in electricity reforms and infrastructure projects
  • Jill Shedden, Group HR director at Centrica plc
  • John Timpson, CBE, chief executive of Timpson
  • Sue Langley, non-executive director for Northern Rock Asset Management and Bradford and Bingley
  • Sue O’Brien, group CEO of Norman Broadbent
  • Wendy Hallett, Managing Diredtor for Hallett Retail

Terms of reference

The Women’s Business Council examined the full range of issues affecting women’s economic participation - in education, in work and in entrepreneurship - from the perspective of women and the choices they face, but also from the perspective of businesses.

Evidence base to inform the WBC

There is a powerful economic case for the work of the council. Despite great progress in recent decades, women are still more likely than men to be in low-paying jobs and are under-represented in senior positions. By equalising the labour market participation rates of men and women, the UK could further increase economic growth by 0.5 percentage points a year, with potential gains of 10% of GDP by 2030. The council is applying an evidenced-based approach to advising ministers on how to maximise women’s contribution to our future economic growth. Evidence papers will be published on this website.


  1. Equality

Contact details