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L&G's Dame Helena Morrissey on breaking the glass ceiling

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

Dame Helena Morrissey is one of the most senior women in UK finance, heading up personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management, which this year saw assets under management reach £1 trillion.

She is also one of the City’s leading diversity campaigners. In 2010, she founded The 30% Club, a campaign with a mission to increase the number of women on company boards.

About 31.4% of FTSE 100 board members are now women, up from 12.5% when The 30% Club first launched. The initiative now has chapters in 12 other countries around the world.

Speaking on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded, Morrissey described some of the initial “antagonism” and hostility when she first invited the chairs of FTSE 350 companies to get involved.

“Most people thought it was just a women’s issue, it wasn’t a business issue,” Morrissey said, adding that some senior male leaders believed she was “interfering where it wasn’t my job to interfere.”

Dame Helena Morrissey on Yahoo Finance UK's 'Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded' show

While that viewpoint has changed in recent years, Morrissey said there was still a great deal to be done on the diversity front at the world’s top firms — from closing the gender pay gap to encouraging firms to recruit more candidates from different educational backgrounds.

“Many action plans that companies produce are still very, very scratching the surface: They’re all about, ‘yes we’re going to ... have some mentoring, and yes we are going to keep an eye on this’ and that’s not going to work. It’s got to be really serious.”

‘We need to think about what it means for men to be successful today’

Morrissey said companies also now need to consider addressing the male side of the equation.

“I’m not turning my back on women, and I’m not saying 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 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.”

Watch the full show for:

  • How Morrissey learned to become more confident and how she grew to love finance.

  • Morrissey on using her former CEO role at Newton Investment Management to help other women.

  • Morrissey on the issue of diversity “fatigue” and the need for new tactics, such as focusing more on the male side of the equation.

  • The progress of Legal & General’s Future World GIRL Fund. Investments by the fund, launched in 2018, are tilted towards companies that have achieved high levels of gender diversity within their ranks.

  • Morrissey on Brexit.

  • Morrissey on her unconventional home life, including having nine children.

  • The best advice Morrissey ever received.

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.