Data reveals ‘equity inequality’ as men twice as likely to be allocated company shares

Analysis conducted by the equity management platform, Vestd, has unveiled that men are twice as likely to participate in a company share scheme.

According to data released by the Department for Work & Pensions, one in 50 men, aged between 35 and 54, are enrolled in a company share scheme or profit-sharing initiative, in stark contrast to merely one in 100 women. The findings also highlight that only 1% of adults in the UK possess savings and investments through a company share or profit-sharing scheme.

Ifty Nasir, founder and CEO of Vestd, said: “Our findings reveal an alarming level of equity inequality, with men being twice as likely to be part of a company share scheme than women.

“Despite the fact that the UK is widely acknowledged as one of the best places for businesses to offer share options, this data shows clearly that there is a huge amount of work to do to ensure more equal access to share schemes.

“There’s increasing awareness of the power that share schemes can have for businesses and employees alike, and encouraging wider access to share ownership would have a significant role in reducing gender divides in both income and wealth.”

Entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author, Stephanie Mearse, Vice President at Desert Capital Management Group and CEO of Empower Hour, commented on the findings. She said: “It's concerning that men are disproportionately benefiting from share schemes. Increasing awareness, promoting diversity in leadership, and implementing policies to ensure equal opportunities can help address this imbalance. Encouraging women's participation in financial education and mentorship programs may also contribute to positive change.”

Just 16,300 businesses currently operate HMRC-backed share schemes, with the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme the most popular, used by 14,000 companies.

The schemes offer businesses tax-efficient methods to motivate and reward employees. They can be a major incentive to employees looking to join a business, with potentially lucrative rewards if the company’s growth goes to plan.

In last year’s Spring Budget, the Treasury launched a consultation on the Save As You Earn (SAYE) and Share Incentive Plan (SIP) to “improve the schemes and expand their use by making it easier for businesses to set them up and offer them out to staff.”

Vestd’s analysis shows that if 250,000 more businesses set up share schemes, it could generate a £2.4 billion boost to the UK economy.

Ifty added: “Eligibility of the EMI scheme, for example, does not include part-time workers. This rules out 38% of employed women who are in part-time roles, compared with 14% of men who work part-time.

“This would be a relatively minor change in policy, but could increase access to share schemes for millions of women and go a long way to reduce gender inequality in the workplace.”