'Boys allowed' in women's networking group

13 September 2007

14 September 2007 | Rebecca Ellinor

A networking group for female buyers has decided to welcome men.

The Blueprint Club, which held its inaugural meeting yesterday, will admit male buyers to its mentoring and networking service.

Lamia Walker, associate director at the Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business at London Business School, presented research at the event attended by 20 top purchasers.

The study Inspiring Women: Corporate Best Practice in Europe reviewed the practices of 61 global firms. It found while many were good at measuring and reporting gender diversity, allowing flexible working practices and creating supportive networks, virtually none helped prepare women to become future leaders. Walker suggested mentoring schemes were an invaluable way to do this and help stem the tide of senior women leaving top positions. She referred to PricewaterhouseCoopers research, published in March, which revealed a 40 per cent drop in the number of female senior managers working in major UK businesses in the past five years.

Walker also said networking groups made up of men and women were more productive and successful than single-sex groups.

The Blueprint Club was initially set up as a women's networking group by Jane Gibbs, regional leader and supply chain director of Rok; Silla Maizey, procurement director of British Airways; Shirley Cooper, procurement director at Computacenter; and Meryl Bushell, chief procurement officer at BT Group to encourage progression in the profession.

Email womeninprocurement@hotmail.co.uk if you are interested in joining.

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