RBS: Impact of COVID-19 felt more strongly by businesswomen than businessmen
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt more strongly by women business owners and entrepreneurs compared to their male counterparts, new research by Royal Bank of Scotland suggests.
A YouGov survey commissioned by the bank found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of female business owners and entrepreneurs are finding managing their business stressful during the pandemic compared with just over half of men (55%).
Although RBS admits this could indicate men’s relative reluctance to talk about mental health, other findings from the survey suggest that the pandemic has indeed amplified existing gender imbalances in society.
Female business owners and entrepreneurs surveyed were 17% more likely to have struggled juggling their business and family life since the pandemic began than men (40% compared with 57%), suggesting that women may have shouldered more of the responsibility for aspects such as childcare, home schooling and household maintenance.
The tangible impacts caused by the pandemic are also felt more by female business owners than males. For example, 26% more female than male business owners and entrepreneurs surveyed report feeling a sense of anxiety as a result of pandemic-induced stress and loneliness (63% compared with 38%); 11% more report having challenges with their mental health (30% compared with 19%); 9% more have experienced a sense of burnout (33% compared with 24%) and 7% more feel that their personal relationships have been negatively impacted by the pandemic (26% compared with 19%).
When asked about the perceptions of their gender within their industry, more than one in five female business owners and entrepreneurs surveyed (22%) said that they felt they were less respected in their industry because of their gender, compared with just 3% of men.
These challenges could have resulted in the findings that 78% of women not having asked for funding for their business from an external source, compared to 75% of men, and 11% more female business owners and entrepreneurs worrying about the success of their business (51% compared to 40%).
Paula Ritchie, director of business development at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Royal Bank of Scotland is one of the biggest supporters of SMEs in Scotland and we are committed to supporting anyone, regardless of gender, to feel that they can truly realise their potential.
“The pandemic has created a unique set of challenges but through measures such as our Women in Business programme, and Back Her Business, we offer accessible expert advice on the pressures of running a small business to help SMEs across Scotland adapt and thrive.
“We are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in a way that works for them, whether that’s through providing training and advice, or funding and networking. If you are struggling please speak with your bank. We want all SME owners to feel comfortable and confident in asking for help.”