Published 7 June 2017

The Countess of Wessex has opened the London Stock Exchange for trading, ahead of a Women's Network Forum event to address equality for women in the workplace.

The Countess is the founder and chair of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Women's Network Forum (WNF), which provides an opportunity for senior leaders from a variety of UK companies to discuss the challenges and issues businesses face in attracting, developing, retaining and advancing women in the workplace.

The Countess of Wessex opens the London Stock Exchange as part of the Women's Network Forum

The Women’s Network Forum is committed to promoting women’s success in the workplace, at all levels, through best practice sharing and supporting those making gender equality a reality. Until women are well represented at all levels of business, we are missing the full effect of positive impact that women make in business and society. 

                     - The Countess of Wessex

After opening the London Stock Exchange The Countess hosted a briefing to discuss the challenges companies face in establishing equality in the workplace, at which Her Royal Highness gave a speech:

"The Women's Network Forum has brought together senior leadership from a group of committed companies to share best practises and support each other in their diversity agendas with particular emphasis on promoting gender equality in the corporate world. Through our work over the past three years, it has become apparent to us all that we are actually still only at the start of the journey."


The Countess of Wessex opens the London Stock Exchange as part of the Women's Network Forum

Recent figures published in the 2016 PwC Women in Work Index suggest that economic gender parity could add an additional $240 billion to the GDP of the United Kingdom alone. Women are a dominant consumer base, representing 70-80% of consumer spending through buying and influence….Studies have cited that organisations with inclusive cultures have greater innovation, creativity and bottom line results. Equality means opportunity which breeds success.

I applaud each of you for what you have done already, but would encourage all of you to do more to engage both men and women in helping build your pipelines of young talent, to be transparent about your aims and status, to measure your progress and to create a new energy and importantly say no to apathy."

The WNF was founded by The Countess of Wessex three ago. Topics addressed by the Forum have ranged from mentorship and sponsorship, agile working and gender parity.