1980 was the year when Women in Banking & Finance was founded by three forward thinking women, with the aim of encouraging more women to make a career in banking and finance, and to provide a network for those already working in the sector. Studies showed that although women made up 50% of bank staff less than 1% were managers and many of them were in non lending areas such as Personnel.
Originally named ‘Women in Banking’, the network was formed in response to academic research into employment of women in the banking sector by Margery Povall at the London School of Economics. The other two founders were Susan Law and Margaret Carrington.
Women bankers involved in the research considered that there was and would be for some, a strong need for a supportive organisation which would encourage women and promote their professional image. A series of gatherings mainly by word of mouth took place in the summer of 1980 and in September 1980 Women in Banking was formally established.
The first chair, as they were then known as, was Margaret Carrington from 1981 – 1982, followed by Anne Watts from Natwest/Midland Bank and In 1982 Susan Law took over the role.
Margery Povall spent many years researching and consulting in organisations, mainly on equality issues. She also started or was involved in several womens groups and initiatives.
On retirement, after studying International Development, along with Susan Law, she started and ran Thatu, an NGO aimed at helping community initiatives in South Africa (particularly those involving women and children) become more sustainable.
Susan Law had over 30 years experience in financial services with NatWest, across a wide variety of roles, ranging from front line delivery to strategic development and change management. She then followed this with a period of consultancy around introducing participative change programmes in government and the private sector.
In the first of a short series of interviews with past presidents, Anniversary Committee Chair, Tracy Watkinson and Darshana Ramji are joined by Susan Law and Margery Povall to talk about how WIBF started, the early days and advice for women in the Financial Services today.