One of London’s most prominent women says gender equality ‘breakthroughs have come from men championing change’

Helena morrissey2
Helena Morrissey. Helena Morrissey

Helena Morrissey is one of the most prominent women in finance in Britain.

She has a CBE and become the CEO of Newton Investment Management which manages £47 billion ($US57.1 billion) of assets at the age of 35, after being at the firm since 1984.

She stepped down as CEO last year to become a non-executive chairwoman at the group and this year she joins
Legal & General Investment in a newly created role of head of personal investing.

She is also seen as a champion for greater women’s rights and prominence in the workforce and is the founder of the 30% Club, which is a campaign that was launched in 2010 to try and get FTSE 100 companies to have a minimum of 30% of women on their boards.

In an interview with Business Insider, Morrissey points out that championing women also comes from those who are usually in the position of power — men.

“If one looks at the history of gender equality across the world, breakthroughs have come from men championing change because they are in that position of power to do so,” said Morrissey.

If one looks at the history of gender equality across the world, breakthroughs have come from men championing change

“30% Club is built on the premise of not just women talking about what the challenges are but also about engaging with those in power to help us. We were looking at this before HeForShe became a tagline. I am a great believer in this. Women should not be embarrassed about having the need for men to help us, we are normally outside the process and gender equality should be recognised overall.”

In recognition of this, Morrissey is a judge on a panel for the FT and HERoes Champions of Women in Business Lists, which aims to celebrate “outstanding business leaders who are committed to promoting gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.”

The panel consists of Morrissey, Suki Sandhu who is the founder of LGBT+ membership organisation for global businesses OUTstanding, and others including Mark Wilson, Group CEO of Aviva.

“We are looking for evidence that the people have done things to truly champion women. There is a lot of talk about initiatives but we are much more interested in the human aspect, whether that is affecting one woman or 1,000,” said Morrissey to BI.

“There are often a lot of unsung heroes or heroines that go above and beyond to help champion women in the workplace. This is not just by setting an example, but actually mentoring, coaching or actually creating a workforce with more women at a senior level.

“This could be from looking at a testimony from someone about how someone changed their life or how that person has transformed a process for women in work that clearly driven a large organisation to make changes. This is why this list is not just like a lot of other lists.”

Nominations are open until May 5 and the winners will be announced at the FT Women at the Top conference on September 27 and in the corresponding Women in Business report.

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