Cherie Blair is backing The Women’s Leadership Fund to raise the number of women executives.

A fund that aims to invest in companies with a high number of women in senior roles will be launched next week, with backing from Cherie Blair and the former prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand, Kim Campbell and Jenny Shipley.

The Women’s Leadership Fund, started by Zurich-based Naissance Capital, will invest in quoted companies and expects to have raised about $200m (£123m) by the end of the year, largely from “ideologically inclined wealthy individuals”.

Daniel Tudor, who will manage the fund, said there had been a clutch of evidence to suggest that companies with a balance of men and women in senior jobs outperformed firms where there were largely men in control.

“We thought if these companies are genuinely outperforming then it would be good to offer investors something,” he said. “This is not a bra-burning exercise, this is business. But if the fund does well, then people will realise that gender diversity is a good thing. The two go hand-in-hand.”

He said Blair, who is on the board with Campbell and Shipley, had been extremely supportive of the fund and had spoken on behalf of the firm at a dinner in New York last month.

The company will also reserve a small part of the fund for more active investment, in an attempt to persuade male-dominated firms to change their policy.

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Photograph: Martin Argles/Guardian