CIPS and SM brought CPOs together to discuss women in procurement ©Sam War
CIPS and SM brought CPOs together to discuss women in procurement ©Sam War

How can we get more women into procurement leadership?

More FTSE 100 CEOs are called John than are women, and procurement leadership isn’t doing much better. So, how can we improve the representation of women at the top?

“A step change is needed in pace.” That’s one conclusion of last year’s Hampton-Alexander Review report into female leaders. This is the second year of the government-commissioned report that seeks to increase the number of women in FTSE 350 executive positions. It follows the Lord Davies Women on Boards review, which saw the number of women on FTSE 100 boards rise from 12.5% in 2011 to above the 25% target five years later. Yet even now, with seven female FTSE 100 CEOs – including Kingfisher’s Veronique Laury (not pictured) – they are still outnumbered by men called John. The Hampton-Alexander Review is aiming for 33% women on FTSE 350 boards, and 33% on FTSE 100 leadership teams by 2020; the latter stands at 19.3%.

As evidenced by the very existence of the review, raising the number of women leaders is a government priority. And it should be a priority for CPOs as well. US research found women make up 37% of students taking supply chain courses at university, yet only 15% of CPOs in the Fortune 500 list are female. It is hard to find comparative figures for the UK, but a cursory glance around any senior procurement networking event would suggest we are not doing much better on gender diversity.

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