Helena Morrissey – fund manager and rock star

Female office workers who toil in cubicles consider Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management, something of a rock star.

As well as juggling the responsibilities of her day job, Ms Morrissey is drawing scads of attention for her efforts to push her fellow sisters up the greasy pole. Her most well-known initiative to date? The 30% Club, which sets out “an aspiration” that women should make up at least 30 per cent of each UK corporate board by 2015. Seven UK-based chairmen are founder members of the club, and two of them have already appointed additional women to their boards since it was launched last November. The club’s debut came months before a government inquiry on the issue of women in the boardroom wrapped up.

In his report, Lord Davies of Abersoch recommended that FTSE 100 companies aim for at least a quarter of their boards to be made up of women by 2015, while FTSE 350 companies should clearly outline the percentage of women they expect to ssee on their boards by 2013 and 2015.

Not a fan of quotas, Ms Morrissey applauded Lord Davies’ efforts to shake up male-dominated boardrooms:

“I warmly welcome Lord Davies’ recommendations and believe they will add to the significant momentum already building towards achieving a higher representation of women on UK boards and, as importantly, the development of women’s careers generally. He has struck the right balance by calling for decisive and measurable action without resorting to quotas.”

Ms Morrissey and Lord Davies have much work to do, however. Last year, women comprised just 12.5 per cent of the boards of FTSE 100 companies, which represents a modest improvement on their representation of 9.4 per cent in 2004.

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The 'Women at the Top' blog is part of a series of online and print publications that focuses on women's achievements in business. With up-to-date news and incisive analysis, the blog will provoke discussion on the role of the world's most prominent businesswomen. www.ft.com/womenblog

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Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

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He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

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Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

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Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.