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To mark International Women’s Day on 8th March, we turn the spotlight on Starling’s chief executive Anne Boden, the only woman in the UK to have founded a bank.


Starling’s #MakeMoneyEqual campaign aims to remove negative gender stereotypes from the public conversation around money and personal finances. What’s changed in the two years since the bank launched the campaign?

When we started, we focused on gender and we laid bare the extent to which the media still splits women and men by language into spenders and earners, the frivolous and the empowered. As the campaign goes on, it’s opened up the conversation and not just about gender - also about other fault lines in media coverage of money, around race, class, creed, identity and more.

We were pleasantly surprised by the uptake of our first campaign. It was written about all over the world; we even appeared in Italian Vogue. But we’d like to see more action and we feel we have to persevere. Just because something is difficult and has never been achieved before, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop - that’s just how we are at Starling.

Why does making money equal matter so much to you?

We all have internal dialogue, or self-talk, in our heads. And a lot of that is about money. That little voice in your head needs to be telling you the right things. It’s constantly picking up its narrative from what it reads, but much of what it sees is based on stereotypes that are not just outmoded, they are simply wrong and don’t reflect the reality of people’s actual lives. If we can help correct the narrative, we can change the self-talk and the actions that come from it and make the world a fairer place for women.

Do we still need International Women’s Day?

Yes, we do. It’s a day when we can be courageous and speak up. A day when we can make it clear to the world that women are not being allowed to fill 50% of the powerful roles in society. This is simply not fair.

Just imagine a situation where you say to a small boy: you have a one in x chance of becoming an MP in this country. But to a girl you say, your chances are one in x minus 10. Women are born with fewer chances. The odds are stacked against us.

When it comes to financial inequality, is there a statistic that really shocks you?

The Money and Pensions Service found that 11.5 million people have less than £100 in savings. They note that this is not only about poverty, but about financial literacy and are calling for more financial education, something I agree with.

If you were Queen for a day, which three measures would you introduce to reduce financial inequality?

  • Abolish unpaid internships.

  • Make it easier for ordinary people to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurship is risky and sometimes the stakes are too high for people who don’t have a financial safety net. That’s why you find that so many entrepreneurs come from privileged backgrounds.

  • Allow every woman to find out on that day what the guy sitting next to her is earning.

Women today stand taller as a result of the struggles and triumphs of women and men in the past. If you could meet three women from history, who would they be?

  • Millicent Fawcett, the women's rights campaigner and suffragist who dedicated her life to securing women the right to vote. She organised signatures for the first petition for women’s suffrage, even though, at the age of 19, she was too young to sign it herself. I think about her every time I vote.

  • Not many people have heard of Lady Charlotte Guest. In 1852 Lady Charlotte, wife of the Welsh steel magnate, Sir John Guest, took sole charge of the Dowlais ironworks in my home country of Wales. The company was later to become the industrial conglomerate GKN (Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds). She had a sound business mind, but by the time she took over, the iron trade was in trouble and in the summer of 1853 she had to deal with industrial strife, pitting her against the all powerful ironmasters. She not only dealt with this conflict, but she also improved the social and educational support available to the wider local community. One of her schools, the Dowlais School, is described as "probably the most important and most progressive school... in the whole of Britain during the nineteenth century.” She was also a great writer and an art collector (and a mother of ten).

  • The first female governor of the Bank of England. Oh, hang on…

As part of our #MakeMoneyEqual campaign, we’ve launched a booklet to promote financial equality in the media.

Written by author and comedian Anne T Donahue and illustrated by Erin Aniker, the publication will help raise awareness of how the media speaks to men and women differently about money.

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