HRMI 2021: Susan Vinnicombe, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Diversity Management, Cranfield School of Management

Vinnicombe was appointed professor of Women and Leadership at Cranfield School of Management in 2000. She established the International Centre for Women Business Leaders that year, alongside launching the first Female FTSE Women on Boards Report, which pioneered the measurement of the number of women on the UK’s top FTSE corporate boards.

Her research expertise on why women don’t make it into serious leadership positions, and her insights into gender diversity on FTSE boards, led to her being asked to join the Lord Davies Review into the lack of women on FTSE boards 2010-2015, and subsequently the Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander Review into the lack of women in leadership across FTSE companies 2016-2020. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Sir John Parker Review into the lack of ethnicity on our top boards.

Vinnicombe was awarded an OBE for Services to Diversity in 2005 and a CBE for Services to Gender Diversity in 2014. She won The British Academy of Management Richard Whipp Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. 

She completed her PhD at Manchester Business School and started her academic career at Imperial College, London. From 2013-2016 she was the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel endowed chair in Women’s Leadership at Simmons University, Boston, MA, USA.

Vinnicombe is married with five adult children — none of whom wanted to be an academic!


Recommended reading:

Women on FTSE boards serve shorter and less senior tenures

HR Most Influential home


Susan Vinnicombe was ranked 47th on the list of HR Most Influential Thinkers in 2021.