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Helena Morrissey hopes to spawn 'a million copy cats' with Girl Fund

City veteran Helena Morrissey has launched a fund that will allow investors to pour money into UK businesses with gender-diverse boardrooms as firms run by men come under increasing pressure to change. 
Ms Morrissey said she hopes the fund, thought to be the first of its kind in the City that only focuses on British companies, will "spawn a million copy cats", so that the country's gender diversity standards improve. 
Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), which manages assets worth almost ?1 trillion, unveiled the so-called Girl Fund on Thursday. It will score and rank companies based on their representation of women across the workforce as well as at board, executive and management level. 
Theme park group Merlin Entertainments, which owns the London Eye and Legoland, is among the top scorers alongside well-known retailers Asos, Next and Marks & Spencer. The worst performers currently include gambling operator GVC Holdings and turnaround specialist Melrose Industries.  
The investment house has already written to the lowest scoring companies explaining how the fund works and how they can improve their weighting in the index. 
Ms Morrissey, who is head of personal investing at LGIM, said gender diversity is not just about being nice to women - rather "it is clearly suboptimal to have one type of anybody overseeing or running things." 
Helena Morrissey hopes to spawn 'a million copy cats' with Girl Fund

Merlin Entertainments, which owns a number of UK attractions including Alton Towers, scores highly on LGIM's gender diversity fund 
The move comes months after Britain's largest companies revealed their gender pay gap figures, exposing a huge lack of women in senior, highly paid jobs after 78pc reported a pay gap in favour of men. LGIM said it might also take this data into account. 
Sacha Sadan, head of governance at LGIM, said it was crucial that companies hire the right talent so that they don't "do a Nokia or Blockbuster" and fall behind in the future. "We've got to the point where it's a business issue not a social issue," he said. 
The City's top fund managers are increasingly moving their focus away from excessive pay and towards wider issues such as gender diversity, with LGIM now voting against the chairman of any FTSE 350 firm where women make up less than 25pc of the board. 
Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, said: "Big investors have become much more focused on gender in boardrooms and executive teams in recent years."
Sir Philip, who is co-chair of a Government review into gender diversity in business, added: "Some [companies] are showing strong leadership, but they are also reflecting changing expectations from their own clients and changing attitudes in society." 
Legal & General, which ranks 50 out of the FTSE 350, based on its own diversity measures, or ninth out of the top 55 financial companies, is putting ?50m of its own money into the fund.  
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