Helena Morrissey Bets on Women in Workforce for Better Returns

(Bloomberg) -- Legal & General Investment Management launched a gender-diversity fund that Helena Morrissey, a campaigner and executive at the firm, said will help improve female representation at U.K. companies.

The equity fund will rank firms on how many women executives and workers they employ and allocate more money to those with the highest scores. Gender pay gaps aren’t among the criteria at launch but may be included later, LGIM said in a statement on Thursday.

“Gender inequality is one of the key issues of our time and one that generates so much frustration,” said Morrissey, head of personal investing at LGIM, which oversees about 983 billion pounds ($1.3 trillion). “Rather than feeling trapped or despondent, let’s do something about it.”

The Future World Gender in Leadership U.K. Index, or Girl, fund will score British companies according to their number of women directors, executives, managers and workers. Firms will need to reach 30 percent representation in those four areas to be included. The size of the fund wasn’t disclosed.

Female representation in British business has become a hot topic, particularly since the government this year forced big companies to publish data on how much they pay women in relation to men. LGIM’s parent company, Legal & General Group Plc, reported that it pays women 31 percent less than men on average, beating Standard Life Aberdeen Plc but considerably worse than U.S. rival BlackRock Inc., where the gap was just 21 percent.

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