Women's Business Council

The Women's Business Council (WBC) was set up to look at ways of maximising women's contribution to economic growth and assesses priorities in removing the barriers that women face in playing a full part in business and the workplace.

Read the Women’s Business Council report

You can read the Women’s Business Council (WBC) report online, published in June 2013.

Government published it’s response to the report, Women and the Economy – Government Action Plan in November 2013, setting out how it will take the WBC’s recommendations forward.

In December 2013, the WBC published its 6 months on report, with a series of case studies and a guide for employers.

Role of the group

Despite great progress in recent decades, women are still more likely than men to be in low-paid jobs and are under-represented in senior positions. The evidence shows that there is untapped potential among women and that the economy is missing out because women have a lower rate of economic activity than men.

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

Women’s Business Council members

The chair and the 8 council members were chosen for their achievements in the business world as well as their commitment to diversity in the workplace. They advised the government on issues such as women returning to work and how to get more women into executive positions.

The council members are drawn from across business sectors (advertising, social media, enterprise, retail, legal, financial, utilities, pharmaceutical, recruitment).

  • 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
  • Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE, Chief Executive of MITIE Group plc
  • 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.

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