RMB Welcomes Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’
In March 2017, the iconic ‘Fearless Girl’ statue by Kristen Visbal took its place on Wall Street, standing defiantly and staring down New York’s bronze ‘Charging Bull’ by Arturo Di Modica. Now, in 2018, it’s time for Africa’s own ‘Fearless Girl’ to take a stand.
Commissioned by RMB and created by Cape Town-based artist Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe, the artwork shows a proud and courageous African teenage girl walking alongside a contemporary concrete lion. The lion doubles up as a functional bench, and invites viewers to sit and contemplate the ideals inherent in ‘fearless femininity’.
Having been inspired by Wall Street’s ‘Fearless Girl’, RMB envisioned a life-sized and Afro-centric version of the artwork that would speak to the values of individuality, courage and strength.
After embarking on a nationwide search for female sculptors, Prinsloo-Rowe’s concept, which depicted a quintessentially African Fearless Girl walking alongside a male lion (which is a reference to the RMB brand’s ‘Lion and Key’ logo), captured this vision. The work, which debuted at the 2018 RMB Turbine Art Fair, now forms part of RMB’s Think Precinct collection and is an inspiring, functional and engaging artwork to be enjoyed by RMB and all its visitors.
Art captures the spirit of the time
RMB CEO, James Formby, explains that when RMB invests in the arts, it is also investing in the lives of young artists and communities, and contributing towards the growth of the overall Creative Economy. When it comes to transformation in the workplace, art can be a leading factor in how a company and its workforce communicates.
“Art captures the spirit of the time, transform lives and bind together, not only hearts and souls, but entire societies and nations. Having a Corporate Art Collection on-site helps to reflect the culture of the company in an unspoken way. For example, Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ expresses how diversity and gender equality are valued and embraced. Our people and clients have always had easy access to the palpable energy that original creativity exudes. Artworks are generously displayed across workspaces and our newly refurbished Think Precinct hosts our most extraordinary sculptures in one central, outdoor area, for all to engage,” – says James.
RMB’s Athena initiative: Towards equality in the workplace
Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ complements the brand’s gender equality initiative Athena, first launched in 2015. Through the Athena initiative, RMB works towards creating an environment where women feel they are empowered to achieve their individual career goals; and growing the number of women in leadership in financial services.
New York’s original ‘Fearless Girl’ highlighted a need to change the perception of what it takes to create a successful company. This is what RMB wanted to create – but with a distinctly African narrative. Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ takes her rightful place alongside the male lion, reiterating one of Athena’s key principles of not having to “man up” to have a successful career at RMB.
Athena is a business imperative with the clear agenda to focus on both men and women and the collaborative diversity they offer. This makes Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ an incredible beacon of hope to young women in Africa – encouraging them to lead in their own authentic way.
The addition of ‘Fearless Girl’ to the Merchant Place campus also coincides with the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.
“At RMB we want to create a workplace where everyone, irrespective of gender, can thrive and achieve success in their careers,” says Co-Head of RMB’s Investment Banking division, Emrie Brown: “It is unbelievable how a sculpture can encapsulate so much and with such beautiful simplicity. For me, Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ demonstrates some key characteristics for success – optimism, courage, and resilience to deal with challenges that might come her way, and focus and tenacity to pursue her goals with loads of positive energy.”
Extending her reach
Linda Kachingwe-Sisya, who oversees RMB’s marketing portfolio for Africa, feels that ‘a woman’s place’ in society has become the narrative around women in Africa, despite them taking up leadership roles at presidential level, in parliaments and in boardrooms alongside their traditional responsibilities at home and in the community. “Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ is a constant reminder of the important role women play in positively influencing economies at all levels of society. RMB plans to extend her presence to some of our offices across Africa next year,” she says.
In addition to the life-size statue, RMB commissioned a limited edition of 20 maquettes, 60 cm in height, which were launched at the recent RMB Turbine Art Fair. Such was the appeal of the narrative that Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ conveys, that the full edition was sold out on the first evening of the Fair. Reasons to purchase ranged from personal art-collecting to acquiring gifts for “fearless” female loved ones. Particularly meaningful, was the story of the St Anne’s Diocesan College matric class of 2018 who collectively purchased edition number 14 to present to their school at their matric farewell ceremony. The maquette will most likely find her home in the foyer of the new Theatre complex, due for completion in early 2019.
RMB believes that everywhere she goes, Africa’s ‘Fearless Girl’ will serve as a visual reminder of an environment where all people are encouraged to fearlessly reach their potential; taking the equality conversation into society.