International Women’s Day Message from WIBF President, Anna Lane

As we all know, women have to fight to have a seat at the business and finance table. Parents don’t talk to girls about finances as much as they discuss the issue with boys. The single biggest issue female entrepreneurs currently face is a lack of funding sources. Our rights to own property or even to open a separate bank account (for married women, this wasn’t until 1975) were very hard-won, but International Women’s Day helps us remember that – and to celebrate those women who broke down barriers before us.

Maggie Lena Walker In 1903, Maggie was the first black woman to charter a bank in the United States. In opening the St Luke Penny Savings Bank she also created a savings resource for children, not just adults.

Hilda Harding In 1934, Hilda joined Barclays as a shorthand typist. When she made history as the world’s first female bank manager she insisted that the next two senior staff should also be women. Newspapers at the time kept referring to Harding as a ‘honey blonde’. Important, in the scheme of things?…Barclays’ General Manager (a man) reminded journalists that the appointment was ‘solely on merit.’

Muriel Siebert The ‘First Woman’ of Finance’s’ autobiography was called ‘Changing The Rules’. In 1967 She took to ‘the floor’ in an unprecedented way when she was the first woman to join the New York Stock Exchange.

Ann Boden In 2014, 61-year old Boden began consumer-focused Starling Bank and has now built it to a £98m-revenue business, employing over 1,500 people. Forty-five per cent of its senior managers are female.

Alison Rose In Covid-stricken Britain 2021, NatWest CEO Rose announced a £1bn fund ringfenced for female entrepreneurs. In 2022, she announced £1bn more.

In 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘Backing Britain’s female entrepreneurs will help us build back better.’ We completely agree. As Ann Boden says: ‘We can’t do it all on our own.’

Let’s link together through WIBF, and find new ways to subvert the economic and social legacy of the pandemic. Let’s build an economic recovery – and do it in the right, the innovative way. With men, and women, working together, side by side.

Anna Lane

President, WIBF

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