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Helena Morrissey: We need to focus on men to avoid diversity fatigue

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

Senior City investor and staunch campaigner for diversity in business, Legal & General’s Dame Helena Morrissey, says she often gets asked the question: “What about the white, middle-class men — what are you doing about them?”

Speaking on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded show, Morrissey — also the founder the 30% Club, which campaigns for more gender balance on company boards — said businesses should focus on “new tactics” to avoid diversity fatigue or resentment.

Watch the full Dame Helena Morrissey interview here.

“I think that ... one of the problems has been that diversity has been for many years perceived to be part of a sort of political correctness and has been part of a sort of equality agenda — which I’m obviously a great believer in — but it’s not enough for many people in business” said Morrissey.

“One of the problems about fixating on the gender issue — however unfinished it is — is that it also driven the sense that actually we women care more about women than we do about broader diversity,” she said.

Legal & General head of personal investing Dame Helena Morrissey joined Yahoo Finance UK's Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded show

“We need to address the male side of the equation more,” Morrissey said.

For Morrissey, focusing on gender was always more of a starting point than a sole focus.

“I’m not turning my back on women, and I’m not saying that it’s all fixed for us, but I do think we need to think about what it means for men to be successful today,” Morrissey said.

‘To be a successful man shouldn’t just be about having a big job title’

“To be a successful man shouldn’t be just about having a big job title and a big pay packet. It should be about a broader range of successes and more choices in life.” Morrissey said “I think by including men in that conversation we get some real insights as to their frustrations too.”

Morrissey said she is optimistic that many companies are reconsidering their workplace setups to address some of those frustrations, such as providing more flexible working environments for men who want to play an active part in the upbringing of their families.

Meanwhile, men sponsoring and mentoring women can make a big difference, according to Morrissey. “Often they learn so much about the slightly subtle, but yet important, issues that women might be facing that a man just might not even see or certainly not be aware of.”

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded explores the stories of some of the most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.