Helena Morrissey and the art of ‘having it all’

Have you ever noticed how some women seem to ‘have it all’, while others struggle to have even a little by comparison? One friend of the female persuasion has a part-time job, a nice supportive loving husband, and they have no children. Yet she appears permanently stressed out by her life.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Helena Morrissey. She’s the chief executive of Newton Investment Management, which handles a cool £45 billion of funds. So far, so good. But in November 2010 she established the 30% club. She’s enlisted many leading company chairmen to pursue a goal of 30% female representation on boards by 2015. These chairmen are busily recruiting others to the 30% club. The 30% club website has a list of these people: http://www.30percentclub.org.uk/about-us/members/

What else does the energetic Ms Morrissey manage to fit into her life? Well, nine children, for a start, the youngest of whom is just three. The Financial Times recently published an interesting interview with Ms Morrissey. You may need to register to read the article, but it’s accessible at no cost.


I read somewhere that Ms Morrissey also finds the time to do some charity work. Despite all this, whenever she appears as a public speaker she looks as cool as a cucumber, as anyone who’s seen her performance in front of a recent House of Lords select committee will testify.

How does she manage to fit all these activities into her week? It’s been a mystery to me, at least until this morning. And so it is that we come to a startling revelation. Remember, you read it here first. The key to unlocking the mystery was seeing identical twin ladies in the centre of Bath this morning, as I was taking my daily constitutional. Looking at them, I cried out, ‘Of course… Eureka!’… which startled them somewhat, it has to be said.

So that’s it. Helena Morrissey has an identical twin sister. Between them they divide up the massive workload, but to the public appear as just one Superwoman. Now there’s only one thing they’ve failed to find the time for over several months, namely provide us with independent evidence of a causal link between increased female representation on boards and enhanced corporate performance. To my mind any reasonable person with little insight into this area (99% of the population?) would infer causation (rather than only correlation) from the following excerpt from a Catalyst report quoted on the 30% club website.The excerpt:

Companies with three or more women directors achieve return on equity 45% higher than the average company.

We know from Professor Susan Vinnicombe’s evidence to a recent House of Lords inquiry (see earlier post) that Catalyst themselves stopped making claims of a causal link between increased female representation on boards and enhanced corporate performance a year ago. Hopefully the Morrissey sisters will find a moment some time to provide us with their evidence of a causal link…

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