Born in Hartford on July 7, 1887, Beatrice Fox Auerbach is known for her leadership of the G. Fox and Co. department store. She and her husband George Auerbach returned to Hartford to help manage the store after a devastating fire destroyed the building in 1917. When George passed away in 1927, she became the store’s vice president, then took over as president in 1938 upon the death of her father.
As both a woman and a Jew, her role leading a large corporation was unexpected, but she gained admiration and respect for her professional instincts. Under her leadership, G. Fox and Co. became the largest privately-owned department store in the U.S. She recognized that customers wanted the retail experience to be an event in itself and she remade G. Fox and Co. into a destination.
Auerbach aimed to create an equitable work environment in her store, promoting women, African Americans and veterans to upper-level management positions. She instituted new and progressive policies with liberal hiring, salary, pension, health and retirement packages, including a five-day workweek. She trained her employees to treat all of her customers equally, and without discrimination.
She used her resources to benefit the community, supporting the arts, music, hospitals and other institutions across Connecticut. She actively supported higher education for women, funding scholarships and endowments at several institutions. In 1945, she founded the Service Bureau for Women’s Organizations, which helped women to train for leadership positions and to learn about national and international issues.
Auerbach died in Hartford on Nov. 29, 1968. To learn more, see our Trailblazer: Connecticut Jewish Women Making History online exhibit, the Jewish Women’s Archive, or contact us to visit our archive.