Muriel Wood, Susan Shaw, Hilary Root, Anthea Gaukroger, Audrey Geddes and Elisabeth Rivers-Bulkeley are names that few of us are immediately familiar with.
However in 1973, these six women led what is arguably the most significant gender breakthrough of the investing industry when they became the first women to be admitted to the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange in its 275-year history.
To mark the 50th year since this advancement into what the media at the time labelled ‘the last bastion of misogyny’, in March 2022 City Hive launched a year-long celebration, the Fearless Woman Campaign, partnering with ESG Clarity, Asset Co, Bluebay RBC, Capital Group, Federated Hermes, Lombard Odier IM, Mirabuad AM, Schroders and The Big Exchange to do so.
The campaign has celebrated and shone a light not just on these six innovators, but on the many pioneering women who have broken glass ceilings, challenged stereotypes and changed the face of investing over the years – but remain largely unknown. While highlighting the fearless women and male allies making an impact on investing today, it also looks to the future, and how we can pave the way to financial equality, creating a fairer industry that can benefit all.
Along with exploring the women who had infiltrated the exchanges across the world, and the evolution of women’s financial rights over the centuries, it has explored topics that are impacting the industry today such as the gender data gap, the importance of cognitive diversity, and the rise of financial influencers.
The gender image gap has also been on the agenda, with the Fearless Woman photography competition inviting entrants to share images that were more representative of the spectrum of today’s female investors
Never ones to shy away from frank conversation, City Hive’s Fearless Live event, brought together panels of investment professionals to hold deep dive discussions into stereotypes around risk taking, the impact of cognitive diversity on investment returns, and the role of fearless male allies in bringing about change. Videos summarising the discussion were made available via the Fearless Woman microsite.
The campaign also spoke to the broader community of women investors with the Fearless Woman report Don’t Be Afraid To Make The Most of Your Money. This took themes emerging from the Fearless Woman campaign and findings from a nationally representative survey to dive into the reality of the relationship between women, investing and financial risk. The study tackled common myths, such as women simply being more risk averse than men, and issued a warning that failing to understanding the relationship between women and risk, the investing industry risks losing potential investors and billions of pounds of potential investment. Instead, this money could instead end up being diverted into unregulated financial products or even debt management.
The final months of the campaign have been looking at what is to come, with individuals working in investing share their poignant and inspiring wishes for the future of the industry. This dovetailed with a showcase of the images collected through the Fearless Woman photography competition and an announcement of the judge’s choice image to close the campaign.
While we have made significant progress in the years since women were first permitted into the London Stock Exchange, we welcome signs to move on from the lingering misconception that women and money do not mix. The Fearless Girl has become the Fearless Woman, while we watch more firms recognising and taking action to close the gender gap. The Hargreaves Lansdown Financially Fearless initiative is a great example of this.