Our Story

Leading Executives Advancing Diversity

Our evolution


Desire for Change

Our journey began back in 2011 when our Co-founder, Mick Broekhof, was inspired by what he saw the Network of Executive Women doing in the U.S.A. With a strong sense that Europe needed to follow suit, he reached out to 13 executive women in his network. Based on their shared desire to see gender-balanced leadership across the European CPG and Retail industry; the wheels were then set in motion.


Europe’s Fastest Growing DEI Organisation

Just a few years later in 2014, Mick and co-founder Helayne Angelus established LEAD Network as a non-profit foundation based in the Netherlands.

Sharon Jeske was swiftly appointed as LEAD Network’s first ever employee and Executive Director. Under Sharon’s leadership, LEAD Network became Europe’s largest and fastest-growing organisation dedicated to gender diversity. Members relished the opportunity to connect, learn and share practices on how to drive inclusion.

Simultaneously, LEAD Network began to lead the charge on strategic industry-wide drivers for change such as the introduction of the LEAD Network Gender Diversity Scorecard, CEO Gender Parity Pledge, and CEO Roundtables.


A New Era

After 10 successful years at the helm, Sharon retired. January 2023 marked the start of an exciting new era, as LEAD Network warmly welcomed Allyson Zimmermann as the new CEO.

Building on strong foundations, Allyson brought a wealth of insight from her previous role as Executive Director for Catalyst’s operations in Europe, Middle East & Africa, where she worked with leading global organisations to support the development of more inclusive workplaces.

Allyson’s arrival coincided with yet another exciting period of growth for LEAD Network. A sharp focus on the evolving needs of our members and Partners stimulated an expansion of core offerings and increased expertise within the central team. This period was also characterised by further developments and inspirational gains in organisational leadership, management, governance and advocacy.


Our united vision

Supercharged by the actions of our 19K+ Members across 13 countries, the support of our 65+ corporate Partners and 400+ volunteer changemakers; it is a truly remarkable collective powering progress.

Together, we are united in #DoingNotTrying to create an industry where all genders can thrive.

A rooted belief in #DoingNotTrying

The future we see

Our Vision

A diverse workforce where both men and women are enabled to contribute their full potential and lead their organisations to the next level of value creation.

Our active committment

Our Mission

To attract, retain and advance women in the retail and consumer goods industry in Europe through education, leadership and business development. LEAD Network is convinced organisations can create more sustainable value by leveraging the full talent pool.

Our Values

By the Members, for the Members

Our Members and Partners are at the heart of everything we do. United in the journey towards a gender-equitable industry, we collaborate, grow, and succeed together.

Doing, not trying

As a movement of passionate and curious advocates, we experiment, challenge the status quo and commit to action. We measure progress, share learning, and make an impact.

Cultivating safe spaces

We invite dynamic exchanges of ideas, and welcome varied and opposing viewpoints. We create an open, supportive environment where all the voices of our community are respected and valued.

Why this matters, now more than ever

Our latest study found our collective efforts are moving the needle towards a more gender-balanced C-Suite, but the rate of progress is extremely slow and we know we can accelerate our efforts.

years to gender parity at the current rate of progress[1].
of senior executive roles across the European Retail & Consumer Goods industry are held by women[2].
of discretionary spend will be owned by women by 2028[3].

How we’re rising to the challenge

We believe what we do makes us who we are, and as a collective, we take action together to take greater strides towards more diverse talent pools.

High-impact partnerships to drive change from within

Award-winning educational programmes

Regional and functional networking groups

Become a Partner

Leverage LEAD Network as your reliable DEI Partner to gain access to exclusive educational programmes, events, and leading practices library.