Winterflood is celebrating 50 years of women trading on the London Stock Exchange. On 26th March 1973, women were admitted to the trading floor for the first time in the institution’s 200-year history.

Prior to this date, women were not allowed to be traders on the London Stock Exchange. Whilst women maintained a presence in the City of London and the wider industry in administrative positions, the trading floor was an exclusively male space. Outdated stereotypes and assumptions, as well as restrictive dress codes (traders were required to wear top hats on the floor), made the environment preclusive to women entering, and gave unfair excuses to existing members to reject female membership to the Exchange. However, it was the amalgamation of 11 localised British and Irish stock exchanges in 1972 which finally allowed the shift to allow women to join.

A recent article in the Financial Times details the history and features these pioneering women in its article: ‘Perhaps she will not spoil the atmosphere after all’: women mark 50 years trading at the LSE. However, we would like to take particular focus on our former Winterflood colleague, Sarah Danes, who joined the London Stock Exchange in 1978 and became part of history.

Sarah Danes: Winterflood colleague and joined the London Stock Exchange in 1978

Sarah Danes © Charlie Bibby/FT

Photo credit: Sarah Danes © Charlie Bibby/FT

Sarah began her career at Vivian Gray stockbrokers in the same year following completion of a Business Studies course. Sarah describes Vivian Gray as “trailblazers” of their time, as she was the first woman to work in the front office as an assistant.

It was a year later that Sarah took the opportunity to become a ‘blue button’ on the London Stock Exchange Market floor, joining only a handful of women amongst a sea of hundreds of suited men.

She thrived in this fast-paced environment, finding strength in being a woman in man’s world and viewing the experience as a positive. She describes receiving a “lot of respect” on the floor, however recognised that conversely, she was still met with restrictions as a woman trader in terms of her ability to network or progress.

 “I was not allowed to wear trousers to work on the floor or in the office until 1996 when I went to an investment bank,” Sarah explains. “Thankfully, a stark contrast to today.”

Sarah maintains a key presence in the financial services sector to this day. She is a Trustee of the Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund, which offers financial assistance and support to former members of the London Stock Exchange and their dependents, primarily for poverty relief.

Opening the door for the next: Stacey Parsons

Stacey Parsons © Charlie Bibby/FT

Photo credit: Stacey Parsons © Charlie Bibby/FT

Sarah and her peers paved the way for more other women to enter the trading floor after them, and Winterflood has been privileged to facilitate their careers.

Stacey Parsons is one such example. Stacey progressed through the trainee dealer programme to a head of desk position, and now to the position of Head of Fixed Income Strategy, Product & Client, focusing on aligning the strategic direction of the Fixed Income proposition to our client needs. She further acts as a unifying support to other women’s progression in the industry through the organisation of networking and celebratory events for women.

Winterflood believes that recognising and marking this date should be significant. As part of the wider financial services sector, there is still work to be done to cultivate diverse talent and enable equitable environments where everyone, regardless of gender or background can not only enter the floor, but flourish.