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Morrisons urges suppliers to work with it to encourage more women into leadership roles

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Morrisons will ask its suppliers today to grow the number of women reaching senior management in the food industry.

The supermarket chain has found 70% of its customers are female and not only wants this to be reflected in its own board, but on the boards of its suppliers.

It believes change will help the industry better meet the diverse needs of customers. Morrisons is today hosting a conference attended by over 200 FMCG suppliers, representing household names, in which it will ask them to support a more representative senior management.

Morrisons is asking attendees to pledge to set targets for the number of women in senior management, have a clear plan to ensure a more women are able to reach leadership positions, join a nationwide initiative which provides coaching, networking and online support and share best practice.

Speaking to HR magazine about the initiative, Norman Pickavance, Morrisons' group HR director said: "We are using today as a platform to say 'not enough progress hasn't been made in this area. We haven't got it right yet either - but we have to work together and learn from each other'. We want our suppliers to be tuned in with this strategy.

"We are asking suppliers to sign the pledge - firstly just to get involved, secondly to do something about it, and thirdly if they want to, to publish some numbers."

Morrisons is setting itself a tough target of reaching 30% female representation on the company's senior management group- the top executives in the company - within three years.

The company is committed to exceeding the targets set out in the Lord Davies Review of Women on Boards and would prefer to work with companies who are also committed to developing a more representative leadership.

At the leadership event, Morrisons will be asking the food industry to sign up 1,000 women to a national initiative called 'Pearls' which provides coaching, networking, mentoring and online support to help improve their readiness for senior management. These will include 70 women from Morrisons.