Helena Morrissey receives Outstanding Contribution Award

30% Club founder and gender balance campaigner, Helena Morrissey, has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to business at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards.

Respected British financier, Dame Helena Morrissey, has been recognised for her extraordinary achievements as a gender balance campaigner at The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards this week when she was presented with the inaugural Outstanding Contribution Award.

The award is given to those driving exceptional transformation across British businesses and the culture within them. It recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to business practices.

Helena Morrissey has an impressive 30-year career as one of the leading senior women in British finance. She currently heads Personal Investing at Legal & General and was CEO at Newton Investment Management for 15 years. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to diversity in financial services.

But it is her role as founder of the 30% Club that won her the Outstanding Contribution Award. She set up the club in 2010 to campaign for greater representation of women on the boards of FTSE100 companies with a minimum 30% target by 2020. Six weeks ago, and 15 months ahead of schedule, they hit their target.

“It’s a moment to celebrate,” said Morrissey. “Having started the 30% Club in 2010 when there were just 12.5% female FTSE100 directors, at times it felt an impossible task. A few wonderful men supported the campaign right from the start, but many more were hostile, and there have been numerous obstacles, naysayers and critics. The most bizarre? A FTSE100 chairman accusing me of ‘trying to destroy British business’.

“Of course, there is still much to do before we have truly diverse and inclusive businesses and a society of equal opportunity. And there will be further setbacks and disappointments – I’ve come to see those as a sign of great change, the death knells of an old regime. But let’s celebrate the progress. Change is possible.”

Since launching, the 30% Club now has 10 chapters, in Australia, Canada, GCC, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Southern Africa, United Kingdom and the United States and has redefined its target from achieving 30% representation on Britain’s FTSE100 boards to FTSE350 by 2020.

On receiving her award, Helena Morrissey said: “This is a great honour. The experience of founding the 30% Club taught me many things that will influence what I do in the future. Firstly, that each of us can make a contribution: if you have an idea, go for it, and don’t let the fear of what might go wrong put you off from trying.

“I also learnt that, if we women want to make progress and not just a point, we need to collaborate with men. And, finally, the bigger lesson for me was about the effectiveness of feminine power – moving away from the macho idea about commander control, about forcing or telling people what to do. The 30% Club has always been about hearts and minds, about inspiring people, about trying to empathise with where they’re coming from. And my great hope – looking forward – is that, as more women, adopt more influential positions in society, they will feel confident enough to act as women, to help change our businesses, not just for women, but for the benefit of everyone.”

Attended by over 1,200 business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and journalists, the 17th National Business Awards celebrated 17 winners in total, including Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO, Virgin Money UK, who was named Leader of the Year.