Yesterday, City heavy hitter and impressive she of massive metaphorical shoulder pads Helena Morrissey launched the GIRL fund from Legal & General.
More formally known as the Gender in Leadership UK Index fund, this will basically invest in the top 350 companies listed on the UK stock exchange - but in disproportionately small amounts, or indeed not at all, if they don't hit gender diversity targets. The fund wants to see at least 30% of women at board, executive, management and workforce levels. Research (and I have to say basic flipping common sense) shows that diverse teams perform better.
Like many of the best new ideas, this is controversial and I'm instinctively divided. I wrestle with the idea of quotas. I have been asked by flatteringly big finance companies to be a non executive director and sensed the invitation came primarily because of my gender. And I don't wanna be anyone's token woman thank you very much. A female specimen in the Board petri dish. However, as an employer of a mixed team and as a mother of a daughter, I find the continual sea of white 50-something male faces in boardrooms, the ongoing gender pay disparity and of course the investment gap increasingly wearing.
Helena Morrissey is quite literally putting her money where her mouth is. £50 million in fact, which is seeding this fund. I want to see more of this from fund managers.
At the moment, many people view the investment industry with deep suspicion. You tell me the charges aren’t shown clearly. Performance boasts are made without including fees. They drown us in mandated forests of paper with meaningless small print. However, at its purest, asset management is the life blood of our companies. They are the massive Dragons in the huge game of Dragon’s Den which is the stock market. They fuel start-ups. Grow companies. Aggregate all of our little contributions to fund innovation and growth.
I want to see an industry where we choose asset managers who will influence change. Because money talks. This weekend, I’m going to change the kids’ Junior ISA regular contributions instructions and include the GIRL fund. I’ll explain to them what I’m doing and why. And hopefully by the time they’re 18, funds like this will have done themselves out of a job.
Have a great weekend everyone. Time to put the bunting up, buy some BBQ stuff and get into the Royal Wedding. I have given in and stopped trying to be aloof and disinterested! I even have an opinion on bowl food……#ifyoucantbeatthemjointhem :0)