Equality is a driving force in Helane Morrison’s life. She learned about equality while working for Supreme Court Justice, Harry A, Blackmun from 1985-1986. Blackmun was known as a liberal judge that made changes to abortion laws, and he was committed to correcting the harmful and discriminatory practices that were common during the 20th century. Morrison went to work for Blackmun after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley’s Law School. Morrison already had a degree in journalism from Northwestern University, but law and finance were the two topics that interested her most.
Working for Blackmun was the start of a rewarding career in law for Morrison. She was asked to join the San Francisco law firm, Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, and she eventually became a partner in that firm. But when she joined the Securities and Exchange Commission, her life changed dramatically. Morrison got a taste of corporate fraud and financial tampering, and she realized that most of the companies that were violating government regulations and were non-compliant were run by men. There were a few women executives, but those women were in departments like personnel and public relations.
Morrison spent 11 years working with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But when the President of Hall Capital, Sarah Stein, and Co-Chief Investment Officer, Kathryn Hall asked Morrison to be the Managing Director, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for the firm she couldn’t turn their offer down. In her role as Managing Director, Morrison works with some high-profile corporations and individuals. She understands the world of investing and she spends a great of time working on equality in the workplace. In fact, giving women the respect they deserve in the corporate world is her main mission in life.
That mission is a challenge. Corporate America is still an all-boys club. Men are afraid of women in executive roles, according to Morrison. That fear is well-founded. Women CEOs tend to be more honest, more focused, and much more attentive than their male counterparts. Even though the number of women CEOs is relatively small, women are gaining some ground. More corporations are hiring women executives as finance officers, chief operating officers, and even compliance officers. Morrison has played an important role in expanding the role of women in the compliance field. Helane broke the glass ceiling in the compliance field, and women around the country are becoming compliant officers because of her inspiration.