Morrisons has called on its suppliers to employ more women in senior management roles.

At a leadership event held yesterday, the supermarket chain asked its suppliers to sign up 1,000 women to a national initiative called Pearls, which provides coaching, networking, mentoring and online support. Some 70 women from Morrisons will also join the initiative.

Morrisons said more women were needed because 70% of shoppers in supermarkets were female.

It also asked suppliers to set targets for the number of women in senior management and to have clear plans to ensure more women are able to reach leadership positions.

In March this year Morrisons pledged to increase the number of women in senior management roles within the company from 13% to 30% by 2014. Its most senior female director is private brand director Belinda Youngs, who joined from Canadian retailer Sobeys in January.

“It is vitally important those leading the sector are representative of our customers, most of whom are women,” said Norman Pickavance, Morrisons’ group HR director.

“We need to unlock the talents of all our people to meet our growth aspirations, particularly in leadership positions.”