The “City Superwoman” who has played a vital role in increasing the number of women in British boardrooms is to spearhead the first mainstream fund that will invest in UK companies based on their gender balance.
Sky News has learnt that Dame Helena Morrissey, the head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), will outline plans on Thursday for an index fund that will be weighted according to blue-chip companies’ gender diversity across their workforces.It is thought to be the first fund of its kind in the City, and reflects growing pressure on British business to demonstrate a commitment to narrowing their often-yawning gender pay gaps.
Major companies have faced intense criticism in recent months over the size of the gulf between the average salaries paid to men and women.Industry sources said L&G was likely to support the fund financially, although other details of its structure and operation remained unclear on Tuesday.LGIM, which has about £1trn in assets under management, has previously said that it will use its voting muscle at company annual meetings to oppose the re-election of FTSE-350 chairs who preside over boards with fewer than 25% female membership.
Under its corporate governance team, it has earned a reputation as a formidable campaigner for boardroom reforms in areas such as pay and broader stewardship.
The company is one of the world’s biggest providers of index funds, with more than £300bn managed by the firm’s specialist team.
LGIM and other asset managers have launched a series of specialist funds which aim to address long-term financial risks such as those posed by climate change.Details of the gender diversity fund being championed by Mrs Morrissey will come just weeks before she outlines plans for a new personal investing platform at LGIM.
When she was appointed last year, the former chairman of the Investment Association said:
“There is no doubt that the UK direct savings market is highly competitive and moving very quickly: we are looking to get to the point where we are all using technology to access funds in the same way that we use Amazon to access books.
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“Our focus will be on building a service, not a sales process.”?
LGIM declined to comment on the new diversity fund.