On International Women’s Day, we would like to pay tribute to the 1.5m self-employed women who are leading the growth of this vitally important sector at a time when the economy needs its dynamism more than ever.
The most recent ONS Labour Market Statistics from February 2023 show that women continue to spearhead the resurgence of self-employment in the UK, as the population of freelancers, contractors and sole traders returned to its highest level since the end of 2020.
Having declined during the pandemic, the UK’s army of self-employed workers now stands at 4.3m strong. And while men continue to make up the biggest proportion of independent workers (2.72m) it is women who account for the biggest growth area – and by some margin too.
The number of women working this way increased by 8.7% from October to December 2022, when measured against the same period in 2021. Put differently, there are now 126,000 more women running their own businesses in the UK, as this segment of self-employment grew to more than 1.5m.
In contrast, the male self-employed population has decreased in size in recent times, dropping by 0.4% in the year to October to December 2022 – a fall of 11,328.
As our Operations Director, Nicole Slowey, explained: “Women are spearheading the recovery of the self-employed workforce, which is needed more than ever in challenging times. Along with ideas and innovation, the flexibility and economic contribution of self-employed women are vitally important.
However, recognising the achievements, talent and entrepreneurial spirit of women around the world should not be limited to just one day in the calendar, Nicole added: “This is important every day – but International Women’s Day provides an excellent platform from which to shout this”.
But while the growing size and contribution of self-employed women should be celebrated, there is work to be done and many barriers to break down.
For instance, the number of women working independently still sits 7.6% lower than pre-pandemic levels. This alone should provide food for thought for the government, ahead of the Spring Budget on 15th March.
“IWD also presents an opportunity to raise awareness of the key issues impacting women working this way”, Nicole added.
“Ahead of the Spring Budget this month, the government has a lot to consider – from addressing pay inequality to rethinking the spiralling cost of childcare, which stops many mothers from returning to work.”
International Women’s Day is a global event celebrating the impact and achievements of women. The first IWD gathering was held as long ago as 1911 and was supported by over a million people. Today, it provides a vital platform to accelerate women’s equality – whether socially, economically, culturally or politically.
Qdos are fully committed to creating a more diverse, inclusive and fair workplace. 64% of our team are women, who also account for 67% of the managers within the business.
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