Are we all unconsciously biased?

Are we all unconsciously biased when it comes to Women in STEM and even more so when it comes to women running the business?

When I first spoke to Platinum about taking some space in this premiere issue of Dynamic, I wasn’t sure about how or what I was going to write, we spoke about addressing the problem of increasing the numbers of women in STEM but it seemed to me to be a fairly well trodden path and with WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) leading the charge, probably one to avoid.

We specialise in working with Small and Medium-sized businesses with a turnover of up to £50m to claim the government’s Research and Development Tax Relief (R&D Tax Credits as they are more widely known), Video Games Tax Relief and Patent Box. The principle of R&D Tax Credits is that the company making the claim has to be advancing global Science or Technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty. In essence STEM is at the heart of ever claim.

Initially in my research for the article I started to review the number of women-led businesses that we work with, of the 120 clients on our CRM, only 8 were owned/led by women, that’s 6.6667%, but looking at WISE’s statistics that’s equivalent to the percentage of women in executive positions on the boards of FTSE 100 companies in 2017! https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/statistics/boardroom-stats-2018/

I finally decided on the above heading only three days before the deadline for submitting this article, when I found out that I was guilty of bias, I hope it was unconscious. I had been in communication with Steve Elford and Milly Stone from Whitespace Creative Studios in Brighton about looking at a R&D Tax Credits claim for their business. It wasn’t until I got an e-mail from Milly on the eve of our meeting to say, she didn’t know the coffee shop I’d suggested but that they would see me in the morning, that I noticed that she was the Managing Director of the business.  At the end of our meeting I apologised to her, and mentioned that I’d try and make it up! You said you’d be happy with a bit of free publicity Milly!

So, if I am unconsciously biased, has it actually had an effect on the companies that I am attracting as clients? Will it have a negative impact on my business? Are there things that I can put in place now to change that?

The simple answer to the first of these is I don’t know. I don’t go out of my way to deter female-led businesses, but I am sure if I don’t attract them it will have a negative effect on my business. I had already booked a stand and speaking slot at Women in Business Exhibition in Farnborough on 16-17 October where Dynamic will be launched. I’ll even have a special offer for women-led businesses who want to claim R&D Tax Credits.

I am also looking to grow the business so if you have experience in STEM and fancy a slight change in your career and want to help businesses grow and you can write technically, I’m not adverse to recruiting a new member of staff to join the team. We’re looking for someone who might be able to write technical reports to support the tax claims, but also looking to set up a grant writing team to help our clients to bid for R&D grants. Don’t worry about having to be in Sussex, you don’t, we’re flexible!

If you’re interested in finding out more about R&D Tax Credits, you’d like to make a claim, or you might be interested in joining the team, why not visit us on stand G13 almost opposite Women in Tech, if you can’t make the exhibition, contact us through www.coodentaxconsulting.co.uk or phone 01424 225345 and ask to speak to Simon.