This photograph shows four of the ‘lady clerks’ working at Lloyds Bank’s Exeter branch in 1917.
The employment of women in clerical positions was an important social phenomenon of the war, which had a major impact on all British banks. Previously, if they had been taken on at all, it was in supporting roles such as cleaners and telephonists.
Numbers are astonishing. In January 1914, Lloyds had just six female employees, out of a total of 4,312. By the end of the war there were around 3,300 - 45% of the workforce.
Managers worried that so many women would prove a distraction. To counter this, circulars were issued, instructing female staff to wear clothing ‘that be of dark colour and quiet of character’. They were only to speak to the men on ‘matters of business.’
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