Reluctant or unsure about driving greater diversity and inclusion in your procurement teams and the organisation at large? You need to take your blinkers off!
When it comes to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace it can be difficult to know where to begin.
And perhaps you’re equally skeptical that your actions could even have a significant impact?
But when we were joined last month by Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson; Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba and Darren Swift (Swifty), Inspirational Speaker, The Drive Project & Blesma Ambassador for our latest Procure-with-Purpose webinar all three speakers quickly put these doubts to rest…
People with learning differences
“Just 6 per cent of young people with a learning difficulty are actually in employment which is a burden on society and for individual and their family,” explained Timo.
“These people are often willing but unable to work because we don’t give them the chance to get a foot in the door. They can’t find work because they can’t find work experience. We are often unwilling as big corporations to accept their differences. But they can do the work and they can also be very loyal. The barrier to entry isn’t them, it’s us.”
The Drive Project’s Veterans Work report found that three in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience.
There are roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs.
“Individuals who are neurodiverse or on the autistic spectrum are underused source of talent with great skillsets that our leaders are seeking on their teams,” argues Julie. “There is a constant need for great talent and a unique point of view.”
Starting small is ok
“I have always been a huge advocate and proponent for diversity of thought,” explained Julie. “I’m one of nine children and so growing up I lived with lots of different opinions and personalities and thoughts and I saw the amazing environment that that created. And so I brought that with me to the workplace.
“I wanted to contribute to change. I volunteered to become the global exec sponsor for D and I at SAP Ariba. I started with a gender focus but it has evolved to become something much bigger and much broader.
“At SAP Ariba we think it’s ok to start small. It’s really ok. We started D and I [initiatives] with employees’ passions. [People who said] ‘this is what we’re passionate about.’ Welcoming and embracing personal passions into the professional workplace in a small way blossomed into bigger, more formalised programs and from there we built a D and I framework to drive a more inclusive workplace”
As Timo explains, measuring success isn’t just about measuring numbers. “It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and spend reports.” explained Timo. “[At Johnson & Johnson we are] trying to use story-telling and build business cases around the work we are doing. Talking about meaningful impact is a lot more powerful than just numbers.”
Take your blinkers off and crack on!
When it comes to getting started procurement teams simply need to “crack on and do it! I can promise you that you’ll find it hugely rewarding and enjoyable” asserted Timo. “I’m a firm advocate that [diversity and inclusion initiatives] change how procurement is viewed in the business and how we’re perceived.
“A social innovation agenda drives a completely different conversation with our business partners beyond that age-old savings conversation that we all get a bit bored of.
I really believe there is a massive untapped potential out there of many different groups that we don’t support as well as we should do. They can bring tremendous value and insights and different ways of doing things, often better than we can into our supply base. Get involved.”
Whilst serving in the Army in 1991, Swifty was seriously injured by a bomb. He lost both his legs, a number of his fingers and damaged his arms along with various other injuries.
Many years on and Swifty continues to live by this motto, championing individuality, pushing the boundaries of life as a double amputee and creating his own path.
“From my perspective I was lucky. I was surrounded by the right people. They were what I call “blinkers-off” people. They don’t wear blinkers. Or they’re prepared to take them off. They gave me the opp and had the right attitude to see some of the attrubutes that could be nurtured and untilised.
Broden your thinking. Take a punt on difference and diversity. Instead of always thinking you can’t ask why not, why wouldn’t we why shouldn’t, we let’s give it a go.
Unicorns are a mythical creature but they’re also a type of horse. Horses wear blinkers and they wear blinkers because it makes them go down a particular route, stops them from deviating stops them from thinking elsewhere and I quite like the idea of taking those off and having a wider vision.”
“What are the essential traits of future leader in procurement?” asked Julie.
“Is it this unicorn that ticks all the boxes. We intentionally seek a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience; different skill-sets. Because that drives innovation and that leads to great advancements.”
Procure with Purpose – Join the movement
Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.
Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.
Enrol here to join the Procure with Purpose group and gain instant access to our exclusive online events, including the Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns webinar.