Who Run the World? Women in Procurement!

The talent pipeline is bursting with superstar women at entry – mid level. Why then, is that same pipeline so overwhelmingly stocked with men at the leadership level? In the words of Beyonce – Who run the world? Girls!

Bravo! Celebrating and Connecting Women in Procurement – get involved here.

If you work for a large, multinational organisation, a quick scan of the office might have you believe gender disparity in the workplace is a thing of the past, but it’s time to think again!

  • Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions.

Now let’s take look at the Procurement stats. According to research conducted by John Everett, EMEA Business Service Group Director at Dow Chemical and CIPS-Switzerland Branch Chairperson, in the majority of procurement associations, women account for 20-35 per cent of memberships and at procurement conferences, they represent 30 per cent of attendees and just 20 per cent of speakers.

Why is This So Important?

I’d forgive you at this point for thinking that the outlook sounds pretty bleak, but all is not lost!

The good news? The lack of diversity throughout organisations affects everybody, men and women alike. It’s statistically proven that employees achieve more when they can be themselves, and also that diverse organisations are more likely to outperform (35 per cent more likely, to be exact).

  • Diverse and inclusive teams decrease the turnover within organisations. When employees are happy and face no discrimination, they’re more likely to stick around.
  • The best people won’t want to work for a company with a track record of gender inequality or discrimination. An organisation’s reputation in regards to diversity is important to prospective employees.
  • If the employees within your organisation aren’t a true representation of your customer and stakeholder base, you can’t possibly act with everyone’s interests in mind.
  • Everyone brings different skills and talents to the table. You’re certainly narrowing your business horizons if everyone at the top is the same gender, race, age and sexuality.

If we unleashed all of the latent power of women out there, we could unlock almost £10 trillion of additional global economic output. And so, it’s in everyone’s interests to help improve diversity and inclusion.

What is Bravo?

At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive in the procurement profession. This is why we are launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women in Procurement.

“Procurement is a pathway to the CEO’s office. So I hope that increasing participation of women in procurement leadership roles, will ultimately lead to a brighter future for female business leaders.” says Tania Seary, founder of Procurious.

“We want all our members – women and men alike – to unite and tackle diversity barriers head-on, shining a spotlight on the career success factors that will allow women to thrive at all levels.”

Women in Procurement at ProcureCon

Just last week at ProcureCon IT Amsterdam,  there was a great example of the power of women connecting and sharing.

Hosted by Claire Tapping, Head of IT Purchasing Rolls-Royce, the ‘Women in Procurement’ breakfast bought together 20 inspiring women to share their experiences, observations and reflections on what it’s like to be a woman in the procurement profession.

There was a general consensus among the group that diversity within procurement has noticeably improved in recent years. The attendees were particularly heartened to see so many females at an IT/Tech conference, an industry where women are typically underrepresented.

But there’s still a long way to go. Several people noted the need to change attitudes towards women and the vocabulary used to describe them in the workplace.

Female managers are often referred to as being “bitchy” or “bossy” or condemned for having a strong personality. Men, on the other hand, might be deemed as authoritative or passionate for expressing the same character traits.

Challenging these perceptions, and calling out discriminatory attitudes, will go a long way to ensuring women are respected at work and promoted into leadership positions.

Women CAN Have it All!

It was fascinating to listen to accounts from women of different ethnicities working all around the globe. Experiences vary dramatically, particularly when it comes to balancing work and family life.

In Switzerland, for example, working mothers are not readily accommodated. Childcare costs are exceptionally high and there is little government support. As one delegate commented, “Switzerland has the most highly educated housewives.”

By contrast, Iceland ranks top in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index, and has done for the past six years. Almost 80 per cent of Icelandic women work. They represent, thanks to quotas, almost 50 per cent of board members (versus 23.2 per cent in the UK). Who’s coming with me?

Many of the ProcureCon delegates could relate to the struggles of being a working mother. In many countries, it’s harder for men to work part time, or to receive paternity leave.

Women have been made to feel that they shouldn’t take on senior positions if they’re planning on starting a family. Conversely, in accepting a new senior role, some have felt as though they should put their family plans on hold.

Laws need to be adapted and organisations must work towards accommodating working parents, both men and women. Everyone should have the opportunity to choose how they manage their families.

What’s to Come?

Short of us all moving to Iceland next year, the best we can do is work to make a change wherever we are and however we can. And there’s always strength in numbers.

Most of the women present at ProcureCon work for organisations where there is an organisation-wide women’s network, but nothing specific for procurement pros.

We want Bravo to help fill this gap, making it easier for us to communicate, share ideas, mentor and be energised to do more!

As part of Bravo, we’ll speaking with a number of high profile procurement leaders about their own advice to young women starting off in Procurement, and how they’re helping females get ahead.

Join the discussion on Procurious and help put this issue to rest once and for all.