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Vast majority of SNIB investments in male-run firms despite saying equality “makes economic sense”


The Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) is facing questions over its commitment to gender diversity as Disruption Banking reveals 93% of the Bank’s investments are in male-run companies, despite “reducing inequality” being one of the SNIB’s founding missions.

Analysis conducted by Disruption Banking shows that, of the 28 investments the SNIB has made so far, 26 have been in companies with male CEOs. Only two of the SNIB’s portfolio companies are led by women, the real estate fund PfP Capital and Aberdeen-based pharmaceutical company Elasmogen. The SNIB challenged the numbers and said “of our direct investments, 26% are female-led (Founder, Chair or CEO), and two of the four funds we have helped to establish have female Chief Investment Officers.”

Either way, this would appear to be in contradiction to the expressed ambitions of the SNIB, which has consistently emphasised its desire to “extend equality of opportunity.”

In their Equality Strategy for 2022, the SNIB says that “in addressing its three missions, the Bank must also address inequality in Scotland, and pursue equality, diversity, and inclusion within the organisation, through its investments, and via its supply chain.”

“There is substantial and continually mounting evidence that a more equal society is a more prosperous society; it is not just better for overall wellbeing and quality of life, but also makes strong economic sense. Without better equality, the Bank’s missions – those that reflect the grand challenges facing Scotland – are unachievable.”

Why are the vast majority of the Bank’s portfolio companies run by men given its belief that gender equality “makes strong economic sense?”

A spokesperson for the SNIB said:

“The Bank is proud to play an active role in increasing equality of opportunity for women seeking investment in scaling businesses while recognising this is an industry-wide challenge.

“We actively support the findings in Ana Stewart’s review ‘Pathways: A new approach to women in entrepreneurship’, our public commitments build on the recommendations within the report and we take a strong stance with our ambitions to further embed Equality, Diversity & Inclusion across the sector as a whole.  

“We also support the investment ecosystem more broadly; we recently co-hosted an event for female founders with AccelerateHER and Investing Women Angels to help address the challenges faced by women in business.

“In addition to supporting increased access to investment capital for female-led businesses, we are also investing to increase equality of opportunity in other ways. 100% of our portfolio businesses have committed to adopting Fair Work First principles, 29% of these businesses have operations in the 20% most deprived areas of Scotland and 20 Scottish local authority areas have benefitted from Bank investment.”

Author: Harry Clynch

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