Why ‘lean in’ when you can change the system for good? A force to be reckoned with, Dame Helena Morrissey is rewriting the definition of diversity when it comes to business in her new book, A Good Time to be a Girl. For too long the corporate world has been dominated by a narrow, masculine definition of power, which Helena alongside with her superb wit, amazing energy and ability to elicit change through collaboration, is committed to rectifying.
Helena Morrissey is fascinating for many reasons, not least for her amazing career. A former CEO and mother of nine - yes NINE - she founded the 30% club with the aim of achieving female representation on boards. A movement which, following the financial crisis in 2008, became a welcome necessity for most FTSE 100 companies after the risks of groupthink became clear. A lack of diversity creates a lack of debate and subsequently, a lack of balanced decision making. Not only that, an all-white, all-male board is hardly representative of society in general.
Her manifesto is practical with many useful lessons for businesses and can’t be faulted for it’s cause and effect approach to widening the path of opportunity for women and minority groups within the workplace. She takes on some interesting topics; balancing motherhood with a fulfilling career (as a mother of nine she’d know); the emotional needs of women versus men; and the benefits of feminine qualities like collaboration and empathy over systemising masculine traits. Controversial as these later assumptions are, they play well into Helena’s theory that a mix of qualities - whether you believe them to be masculine or feminine or not - is essential to strong business performance.
So why is it a good time to be girl? Well, alongside businesses’ ongoing efforts to truly rebalance the number of women in powerful positions, we are as a society are undergoing an immense amount of change. Education, politics and technology are all contributing towards achieving equality, whilst influential voices across every industry are speaking up for women’s rights. When Ladies-who-Launch were lucky enough to watch Helena Morrissey speak at this year’s Women of the World festival, we were overcome by the energy and excitement from women and men in the audience. This time is different. We can’t change the past, but we can all play a part in creating a better, more diverse and more sustainable future.
A Good Time to be a Girl by Helena Morrissey. Published by Harper Collins, 2018.