Helena Murphy, co-founder with Duncan Di Biase, and director of Raising Partners, an investment consultancy which sits between entrepreneurs and investors to secure equity, shares her personal experience of sexism in the investment raising world and provides tips on how female founders can overcome it

Earlier this year, a UK VC & Female Founders report for the Treasury threw light again on the endemic sexism of the business investment world, with findings which included the reality that for every £1 of VC investment, all-female founder teams get less than 1p. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said it was "incredible" that in 2019 men had a "virtual monopoly on venture capital."

Unfortunately, gender imbalance and bias is a reality within equity raising and I have experienced it first-hand. I've been to several board and investor meetings at investment and law firms across the City, and on more than one occasion, people assumed I was there as the PA or the stand-in receptionist. Not the person presenting in the boardroom to the partners of the firm. I've also recently been in an office filled with men whose artwork on the walls was paintings of naked women!

The challenge for female founders is tough, mainly because there are so few female investors. This is because investment is still an industry many women tend not to enter. It is viewed as a bit of an old boy's club and has a reputation for not being female friendly. A lack of female investors perpetuates a vicious circle, especially when it comes to accessing equity for female-focused products (investors tend to back products or services they intuitively ‘get.') However, there are some things female founders can do to manage this reality to their advantage. Here is one inspiring case study and top tips to help female businesswomen who may be seeking investment.

Case Study: Trinny Woodall

A great example of a woman who raised funding well is Trinny Woodall for her beauty brand Trinny London. Trinny recognised that she was pitching a female-focused product to a room full of men so, instead of pitching the benefits of her make-up and how they solve the pain points of women, (which the men in the room may not understand) she pitched purely the numbers, the margins, the market and the size of the opportunity. Even though Trinny knew that women would love her brand, she knew that what the people in that room were looking for, and what was most important to them, were the numbers.

Tips for women pitching for investment

1.         Knowledge is power: Become knowledgeable about the industry, and then help one another by passing on information and advice to other female-founders. We need to create our own networks to do this. Good advice is invaluable.

2.         Female mentors: Find other women who have secured funding and don't be afraid to ask them how they did it. If you don't know where to find investors, or what they are looking for, then find someone who does and ask them.

3.         Pitching female-focused products to men: If you find yourself trying to secure investment for a female-specific product, to an all-male investor pool, focus on the figures. Give them the bottom line - potential market share, opportunity and margins.

4.         Back yourself first: If you want others to back you with their cold hard cash, you need to back yourself, your business, and your abilities. Women can often be less confident than men and be more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome. Men tend to ask for more money and provide more optimistic forecasts as to what their business will achieve. A confident attitude is persuasive but be sure to accompany it with accurate figures that you know inside out.

5.         Think about the amount: It's important you ask for the right amount of money. Women tend to ask for less than they actually need but this will cause problems in the long term. It's almost as bad as not going after investment at all.

For more information visit Investment consultancy Raising Partners run by Helena Murphy and Duncan Di Biase. The business partners with businesses of all sizes to secure investment through angel, networks, VCs and crowdfunding.