Pathways Pledge initiative launches with first signatories

Pathways Pledge initiative launches with first signatories

Ana Stewart with Pathways Pledge partners in Edinburgh (credit: Stewart Attwood)

Pathways Forward has launched its Pledge initiative with leading organisations committing to actionable steps aligned with the principles set out in the Pathways report, with their performance measured over a 12-month period.

AccelerateHER, CivTech, CodeBase, Deloitte, Eos Advisory, Scottish EDGE, and the Scottish National Investment Bank are the first members of Pathways Pledge, which is set to add more organisations over the months ahead.

Ana Stewart said: “The Pledge initiative is a key pillar of Pathways Forward. Our focus is on consolidating efforts to drive change through collaboration, with each organisation contributing its share to achieve a greater collective impact. I’m encouraged to have such a diverse group of organisations aligning with our objectives.”

The individual pledges are aimed to complement existing internal policies, and range from the capture and publication of enhanced gender data, gender diversity on selection panels, evidential increases in female participation rates, and the design of key programmes with integrated childcare.

Ms Stewart added: “What we would also highlight, is that this is not so much about implementing the 31 recommendations in the report, it’s about each player committing to positive actions that have an impact at a local level, driving behavioural change, influencing others including government to embrace the recommendations.”

Pathways Forward was launched last September to drive an action-led approach towards realising the principles outlined in the Scottish Government-commissioned Pathways: A New Approach for Women in Entrepreneurship review, co-authored by Ana Stewart and Mark Logan, chief entrepreneurial adviser to the Scottish Government, published in February 2023.

Ms Stewart said: “The severe gender imbalance in entrepreneurship and investment persists because the causes are structural and deep-rooted. It requires engagement and action at a more profound level and across the entire landscape. We need to challenge the way we think about tackling this issue in order to drive meaningful change.”

Last year, the Scottish Government accepted the findings of the Pathways report in their entirety, and subsequently launched a Pathways Pre-start Fund in September with 20 organisations now being supported including Dechomai, Digital Boost, Egg, Elevator, and Women’s Enterprise Scotland to action initial programmes across Scotland.

Al Denholm, CEO, The Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “We support the recommendations within the Pathways Report which focus on the bank.

“We pledge to share aggregated and anonymised data that tells us more about the diversity of those looking for investment from us, and we’ll work with our investee companies to help them embed best practice in their businesses.

“We have unique insight and knowledge that we’ll use to help advance equality, diversity and inclusion as both an investor and employer.”

Yasmin Sulaiman, VP of partnerships for CodeBase, added: At CodeBase, we’re dedicated to opening up pathways to tech entrepreneurship for founders from all backgrounds. Through our work running the Scottish Government’s Techscaler programme, we work with partners across the Scottish tech ecosystem to achieve this. So we’re really excited to be part of the initial group committing to the Pathways Pledge.”

“In 2024, we’ll focus on women founders who are looking to grow their tech startups, and actively improve the representation of women mentors and facilitators in our network. By embedding this work in our day-to-day activity, we hope to impact long-term change in the tech industry and support an ecosystem where women founders can flourish.”

Andrew McNeill, managing partner, Eos Advisory, said: “It’s important to see clear actions being taken on the back of the Pathways Review.

“Eos is committed to being welcoming and engaging, both for female founder and female investors, but that doesn’t happen by itself and so our pledge actions include hosting a series of events to break down barriers for those who are interested in Scottish impact investing, as well as ensuring a diverse selection panel for reviewing all new opportunities.

“We would like young and female founders to look at our portfolio and be excited to be a part of it.”

Elizabeth Pirrie, CEO, AccelerateHER, concluded: “AccelerateHER has been advancing and amplifying the incredible work of women founders for twelve years now.

“And with a number of programmes, accelerators, and learning initiatives now being offered across the ecosystem, collaboration has never been more important to connect women entrepreneurs with opportunities that are relevant and valuable to their stage of business.”

“To meet our commitments within the Pathways Pledge, we will build new partnerships with organisations across the private, public, and third sectors; we will hone the opportunities we offer on the topic of investor readiness; and we will tap into the expertise of our sister organisation Investing Women Angels so that more women entrepreneurs can unlock the knowledge, mentorship and networks required to scale their businesses.”

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