It’s no shock to anyone that women have been shortchanged in the workplace for decades now. We’re still struggling for equality on so many levels. From being promoted last, to being passed over for the best assignments, we always end up seemingly on the short end of the stick.
That surely doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress. This problem literally comes two months after Forbes reported Women had started holding more jobs in the US than men. And now, they have accounted for 55% of the increase in job losses.
That means, a portion of our progress may be quickly erased with the new ‘Pink-Collar recession.’ So, what exactly is it?
In a recent article from The Guardian, they define it as the economic downturn from the COVID-19 outbreak, that has ended up affecting more women than men. The opposite of what we typically see in times of economic crises.
Great. It’s exactly what we don’t need when it comes to advancing the cause. It’s been hard enough fighting for equal pay, now this setting us back even further!
Causes of the Pink-Collar Recession
Although there may be some who may be happy that we are going back to more traditional ways, most of us are not. And that’s only a sliver of the problem; because, it’s tradition for women to stay home and take care of the kids.
Now, just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Women have more than proved themselves when it comes to being successful.
Just look at amazing women politicians like Angela Merkle and Jacinda Arden. Not to mention all the women who have their own businesses and made it to the C-Suite of Fortune 500 companies. We’ve overcome the odds to be some of the most powerful women in the world!
Unfortunately, not all women can work full time, and therein lies another problem. Women started out with a disadvantage from the beginning. Women are over-represented in low-wage roles.
Add to that the majority of industries women have chosen to work in have been the ones the hardest hit by the downturn. Retail, food services and accommodations (hospitality) are at the top of that list.
Even in certain industries like transportation (i.e. airlines), women with the least amount of seniority, are most likely to lose their jobs.
“Among those doing paid work at home, mothers are more likely than fathers to be spending their work hours simultaneously trying to care for children…that in lockdown, mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers.”
I personally can validate these statistics. And I can say that it isn’t something I’m particularly happy about.
Women Making it Through and Past the COVID-19 World
We’ve endured much tougher things as women than a virus, so I’m certain we will make it through these times. Some women like myself, have been able to keep their jobs and effectively multi-task taking care of their children at the same time.
But for some, that may simply not be true or as lucky. Therefore, the question then remains, what are the women who have been directly affected to do?
Well for one, the women who have managed to maintain their positions and family, must look out for those who were less fortunate. Being aware of the current impact to the work environment, just simply isn’t enough.
Second, we must push harder for gender equality in the workplace. Equal pay, pregnancy leave, and flexible work-schedules (remote too) are at the top of my list. But even succeeding with these things, won’t get us to equality.
Go out of your way to become a role-model or mentor to other women who have been held back in their careers. And if you are managing women employees, make sure that they know you value work and are rewarded to reflect this.
We always knew the path to gender equality wouldn’t be a straight one, but I’m sure few of us planned for this set-back. That’s why it’s so important for us to try and keep what advancements we had made. And then push harder, for more in the future.
Without this, we may be leaving ourselves open to a much dire situation. And I personally can’t think of anything worse than our society being sent back to the 1950’s. We deserve equality, so let’s not let each other down and support the fight!
A clean start: tips and tricks for corporates to create a COVID-safe workplace.
One of the biggest misconceptions out there right now is that cleaning is booming, says Estelle Lewis, who is the group executive general manager for partnerships at cleaning services and hygiene products company IKON Services.
The company, which provides cleaning services and hygiene products to a number of blue chip clients, including Crown Resorts, has been on a difficult journey.
A big challenge has been accessing accurate information and ensuring it’s disseminated to staff and clients, she says.
“People turn to cleaning companies as the experts about COVID-19, but the reality is that this has sort of hit us all very quickly and none of us have really had time to sort of take in what this virus actually means for all of these businesses.
“We’re learning while our clients are learning, but we need to be that one step ahead,” Lewis says.
The Group General Manager of Procurement and Supply Chains, Ben Briggs admits he’s had similar challenges at Crown Resorts, with approximately 16,000 staff and contractors regularly on site.
“Reopening a Casino will have its challenges. It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do because you don’t typically reopen, you’re always open,” Briggs says.
“So we have to understand how to create a safe working environment for people, staff and patrons as part of the reopening phase.
“There’s a lot of human elements that we’re going to have to work through over the next couple of months to make sure that we can create a safe working environment at Crown,” he says.
As people get back to work, there’s going to be a level of comfort around the fact that we’re getting back to normal. But we need to be reminded that it’s a ‘new normal’ and a complex space, the pair agree.
The pair opened up about some of the 7 biggest challenges for companies looking to create a Covid-safe work environment:
1. Public confidence
A key priority right now is looking for ways to make the public need to feel safe about returning, so a lot of work needs to go into messaging, Briggs says.
“It will be a different working environment and a different operating environment. You may see thermal scanners at entry points, limited access points into the casino, furniture removed so that we can create social distancing and all the communication that needs to go along with that so that people feel safe,” he says.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m pretty confident that with the measures we’re putting in place, people are going to feel safe to come back to the property and come back and enjoy our facilities again,” he says.
Briggs admits he’s been dubbed ‘The Sanitiser Guy’ and ‘The Sneeze Guard Man’ by his colleagues as he looks to overhaul Crown.
“Where practical be such as hotel reception desks, we’re putting sneeze guards up. There’s sanitisation stations everywhere you go. People are going to have access to masks and sanitisation,” he says.
2. Visual reminders
Visual reminders in the form of signs and messages are being erected throughout properties and visual reminders added to flooring to keep people apart.
Making sure that hand sanitisers and wipes are available to all for staff to clean down their environments when they come and go will be crucial, Briggs adds.
Remote working will also be crucial, because we are unlikely to get all the 15,000 people back to work in the same space. We’re going to have to be smart about it. “Assessing which roles can work remotely, how we structure the work environment to enable appropriate distancing and which roles are operational and are needed on the ground will require some finessing,” he adds.
Lewis adds that she’s looking at sourcing a piece of sophisticated technology with an LSD screen to allow customer communication that allows you to add COVID-19 messages and takes temperatures at reception points is on the cards for clients.
3. Communal kitchens
The communal kitchen was once a place where food, coffee and great conversation takes place in offices, but that looks set to be a thing of the past, Lewis says.
Communal plates, cutlery, glassware and the shared office fruit bowl is on the chopping block.
“Kitchens are also a tricky space from a cleaning perspective. It could be an area where fogging works really well, which is a mist spray that works well for tight spaces. The high grade chemical concentrate mist helps get into corners and edges where viruses can live, which I’d recommend doing on a regular basis,” Lewis says.
And while there a plethora of new cleaning companies entering the market offering fogging and sanitisation, businesses need to ensure they engage companies that stand for trust and integrity.
4. The boardroom
Board meetings will be a very different function within a business. The room will be transformed to adhere to social distancing, with every second chair removed, access to wipes and additional bins for wipes to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitiser will also be added to the room.
People will be expected to take responsibility for their own hygiene, and report any symptoms if they’re feeling unwell and stay home, Briggs says.
5. Vulnerable workers
Vulnerable workers who are considered high risk require special consideration in the workplace, Briggs says.
It’s about putting enough protections in place for them so they feel safe and willing to come back into the office. A perspex screen and floor markings to encourage social distancing perspective so that people have their own space will be crucial.
“Adapt our workplace policies and processes to ensure they are safe and their workspace is a safe haven will be crucial. Reporting and compliance is also important,” Briggs adds.
6. Response plan
Creating a rapid response process that provides specific measures for closing down in the event of an outbreak is crucial, Briggs says.
The rapid response plan ensures properties are closed down and reopened swiftly, which also needs to be part of a training regime for staff and enforced, he says.
7. Clean desks
The traditional desk station is being overhauled, while hot desking has been abandoned in corporate settings around the world.
While people will continue to be encouraging people so work from home, if they do need to come into work, each personal workspace will need to be kept tidy and minimalistic so surfaces can be cleaned is paramount, Briggs says.
“It’s about keeping those practices up so that we don’t get comfortable and lazy in the area that things have gone back to normal so that we can go back to our previous behaviours,” Briggs says.
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You might think that your most strategic suppliers are the ones you spend the most with. But supply chain crises may shine a light on which suppliers are actually strategic.
Modern-day supply chains are truly global, highly complex and getting longer and longer. 20 years ago, most of a company’s suppliers were probably within a very short radius. Today they could be on the other side of the world.
The reality is that organisations have more difficulty than ever keeping track of their entire supply chain – from Tier 1 all the way down to the smallest supplier organisations. This poses enough challenges for organisations when it comes to issues like environmental performance or modern slavery, let alone with supply chain efficiency or continuity of supply.
With so many suppliers to keep track of, organisations have to make decisions about who their strategic suppliers really are. Traditionally, organisations (and their procurement departments) have fixated on the suppliers with the largest spend volumes. In reality, they should be most concerned about a supplier’s risk profile.
This risk profile is thrown into light at times of crisis in global supply chains. This may come from volcanic eruptions disrupting global flights and travel, or from a global pandemic, such as COVID-19.
What Does the 1% Look Like?
All suppliers are unique, bringing different things to an organisation beyond the goods and services they provide. When assessing which suppliers to manage as ‘strategic’, procurement departments have traditionally focused on their visible suppliers. This usually is defined by spend profile and determined using traditional methods such as the Pareto 80:20 principle.
However, it’s the less visible, hidden suppliers that are often the most strategic. These are the 1%.
This group is made up of the suppliers who are easiest to ignore as they supply something low-cost and apparently trivial to the organisation. In truth, this trivial component may be manufactured from an expensive or rare raw material, be a proprietary item, or come from a supplier who has a monopoly or dominance in the market. Despite this item costing very little, the likelihood is that it is difficult, if not impossible to replace. This makes the potential impact on the supply chain huge should the supplier fail to deliver.
Assessing these suppliers using another procurement favourite, the Kraljic Matrix, they would fall into the ‘non-critical’ or ‘bottleneck’ categories (see below).
However, in many cases, the risk aspect of supply is downplayed or removed entirely, leaving the focus solely on profitability. This is where the issues with your 1% lie.
The Role of Technology
In times of supply chain crises, every supplier – even your ‘transactional’ and ‘bottleneck’ suppliers – need the same attention in order to ensure you’re not missing something. What may have once seemed like an impossible and highly inefficient task has been aided considerably by the advancements in procurement solutions and technology.
Organisations have gone from a reliance on their transactional systems, such as their ERP, and the knowledge and experience of their procurement teams to manage their suppliers. This has left organisations exposed through a lack of data to define and manage strategic suppliers, as well as the loss of knowledge when people leave to join another organisation.
Procurement technology and solutions have developed to the extent that they can help provide the necessary foundation for tracking an entire supply base. This has moved the profession from a position of weakness, to a position of strategic responsibility. In the current climate, people are now actively talking about supply chains and procurement’s role now and in the future.
Therefore, the profession cannot undermine itself by failing to manage its 1% effectively. Even big organisations, with highly developed supply chains can be caught out, as we can see below.
Real World #1 – Keeping Supplies Zipped Up Tight
The fashion industry has taken some very public, very high-profile hits for its supply chain. Organisations have a uniquely complex situation to contend with – finding suppliers who are flexible, reactive and usually low cost on one hand, while on the other ensuring that the highest ethical standards are still achieved.
Suppliers can frequently be small, family-owned and geographically challenging too. However, you might consider an everyday item on many items of clothing a product of a 1% supplier – the zip.
You might overlook it, but a zip is a critical item for manufacturers and designers. The market is dominated by two major suppliers, YKK and SBS, but there are other players there too. However, the majority of these are geographically focused in Asia – specifically Japan and China. Switching supply is unlikely to be easy, so all it takes is a supply chain crisis in this region, say a lack of key raw materials or alloys for production, and supply could be disrupted, without viable alternatives.
Low value compared to other items in the fashion design process, but very high risk.
Real World #2 – Bearing the Risk
Manufacturing is another industry with highly complex and multi-layered supply chains to manage. In automotive manufacturing, supply chains have moved towards the ‘Just-in-Time’ method pioneered by Toyota, making continuity of supply and supplier reliability critical at all times. It’s no use having 99% of the parts available to use, when the 1% is stuck in its factory, two tiers down your supply chain.
As such, a greater focus on quality over price is required, but even this is not fool proof. Fiat Chrysler announced in February that it was halting production at one of its factories in Serbia as it couldn’t get parts from China. Manufacturers who would traditionally hold minimal stock to remain competitive and agile are faced with a situation where that very strategy could pose a huge risk to their organisation.
As the impact of COVID-19 related factories closures around the world continues to grow, even large manufacturers may actually stock out before there’s a chance to re-align. And these items could be as simple as ball bearings for wheels – very low value, but huge risk at this time.
De-risking the 1%
Is there a solution that overworked procurement professionals can take advantage of in the face of a supply chain crisis? When it comes to supplier risk, there are a number of actions that may be taken immediately in order to reduce this.
According to KPMG, these can include setting up a response team to manage the flow of information across key stakeholder groups, reviewing key contracts with customers and suppliers to understand liability in the event of shortages, and conducting a full risk assessment to provide a list of actions to take, which may include shortening supply chains and assessing alternative options.
In the long-term, however, the focus needs to be more on supplier management and the creation of truly ‘strategic’ relationships, built on risk profiles rather than value. This should be done across the entire supply chain and aim to go down through the various Tiers that exist in it. This is defined as ‘Holistic Supplier Management’, a concept explored in more detail by JAGGAER in their latest whitepaper.
JAGGAER’s research uses a similar model to the Kraljic Matrix for supplier positioning, but with the key difference that it focuses on risk and cost to the business (rather than cost of supply) in the event of supplier failure.
A concept is all very well but being able to deliver Holistic Supplier Management and manage suppliers on risk and cost requires being able to access data on current performance, the impact of an individual supplier on your organisation, as well as the value that they deliver. This is where technology comes to the aid of procurement and it’s what is offered within the JAGGAER Supplier Management solution.
The solution not only provides the data and analysis that is required by procurement for key decision-making, but also gives a deeper understanding of suppliers to help construct better contracts that deliver greater value to the organisation. By using technology like this, procurement can effectively and efficiently de-risk their supply chains, keeping them better prepared for managing crises when they inevitably hit.
Don’t Get Caught Out
The key message, as every procurement professional knows, is that good communication is key to maintaining a strong and stable supply chain. However, as supply chains grow more and more complex, geographically dispersed and multi-tiered, individual procurement professionals and departments need to make use of all the resources at their disposal.
No matter how safe you think you are, how stable you believe your supply chain is and how strong your links are with your strategic suppliers, there is always an inherent risk within that 1%. By being better prepared and truly understanding your supply chain, you can avoid being caught out in time of crisis.
We all know networking and creating connections with the people around us is important, but how do we do at the moment? Here’s how.
Any successful person will tell you that it isn’t what you know, but who you know that gets you ahead. Forging new connections and fostering existing connections can help you broaden your horizons, discover new opportunities, and even secure a much sought-after promotion. Often though, creating these important relationships happens in person. Whether it be via a kitchen chat at your workplace or at an industry-specific event, great connections often start with a personal conversation, a handshake and perhaps an impromptu coffee.
Yet unfortunately, with the world the way it is at the moment, the face-to-face option is not appropriate and in many places in the world, not even possible. So does this mean that networking needs to stop? Certainly not. Here’s five creative ways to stay in touch with your connections, new and old, without ever having to shake a hand.
1. Check in people in your network
Given that demand for mental health services have soared worldwide, from a care perspective, there’s every reason to check in on people within your network, and a number of ways you can engage with them.
Connecting or reconnecting with people could be as simple as asking them how their pandemic experience has been, and whether they are, personally, doing ok. Doing so will help them feel supported, and could open up any manner of conversations about future plans or potential opportunities. Connecting certainly doesn’t need to happen in person, but instead should be done via industry-specific networking sites such as Procurious.
Given the high amount of people who have lost their job or had their hours or pay reduced, it is also a great time to ask others whether you can introduce them to anyone in your network. Well-timed introductions can make all the difference right now, and could be the source of hope and inspiration a colleague needs to get back on their feet.
Finally, it’s been a tough year for everyone, and every extra endorsement can help boost not just someone’s profile, but their morale as well. If you get a chance, give a colleague a recommendation. It could just be the boost they need to secure an opportunity.
With the unprecedented number of people out of work at the moment, many may be looking for work for the first time, so offering to look over someone’s CV could be of real benefit. Alternatively, you could direct them to opportunities within your network, or even recommend online events or upskilling options that might help. Helping others in need is what networking is all about – you never know when you’ll need to call in a favour and your connections won’t forget that you helped them out.
3. Give recognition and show as much appreciation as you can
When it comes to feeling appreciated by our colleagues and managers at work, people typically believe that money speaks louder than words. But research shows that isn’t true. In fact, simply saying thank you can go a long way – and can help deepen your connections with those around you.
Research conducted by Gallup of over four million employees showed that recognition at work boosts not only someone’s morale, but their productivity and engagement with those around them. In other words, recognition makes us happy! But how do you do it in a sincere and meaningful way?
One great way to do it is to give someone praise for something they individually contributed. Ideally, do this in a public forum, such as a procurement industry group discussion board. Giving someone praise publicly for their great work will help them amplify their impact.
4. Recommend learning content
While many of us in procurement have found ourselves busier than ever during the pandemic, some in certain industries may have found ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what to do. This might particularly be the case if we’ve been furloughed or worse, made redundant.
But if we’ve found ourselves with spare time, there’s plenty we can do about that! When this pandemic is over, the procurement landscape will look a little (or entirely) different from what it did before. That’s why now is the time to focus on a number of different technical and soft skills, including resilience. Many courses that you might be interested in are inexpensive or even free, and recommending them to other people can help showcase your industry knowledge and give you a reason to get in touch with your connections.
5. Start a group chat (and talk about things besides work)
The point of creating connections is to broaden your network and potential opportunities. But in creating and fostering these connections, sometimes it’s important to talk about everything but work. Plus, having a casual chat and even sharing some humorous banter with colleagues can inject some fun into your day and help you feel less lonely and more connected.
Whether it’s you sharing cat snap chats or talking about your children or the (limited) activities you’ve been able to undertake during lockdown, bringing your whole self into group conversations can help foster more authentic connections with those around you.
How have you been staying connected with your colleagues and those in your broader network? Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.
Considering this macro-economic turmoil, new research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong during the pandemic
The early days of COVID-19 were financially tumultuous and incredibly stressful. For most business executives, uncertainty ruled the day: Would my contracts hold? Will I get paid on time? And will I have enough funds to pay my team and suppliers?
The issue is exacerbated in the supply chain, where late payments and cancelled contracts in one part of the world create chaos for unrelated businesses located millions of miles away. Of course, these short-term concerns were ultimately trumped by even bigger issues relating to bankruptcies, business closures and unemployment.
Considering this macro-economic turmoil, Procurious’ latest research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong and stood up to the stress test – which is a major testament to procurement’s response and the strength of existing buyer-supplier relationships.
Our survey of 600-plus procurement and supply chain leaders found that nearly 60% of organisations (58%) are still operating and paying their suppliers per their contract. In fact, 14% of organisations are speeding up payments to suppliers and 6% are providing direct financial support. On the other end of the spectrum, 10% said they are delaying payment to all suppliers, and another 11% said they were delaying payments to non-strategic suppliers. Overall, this is positive news – for buyers, suppliers and the broader economy.
However, the longer the crisis plays out, the more financial strain it will cause. Despite the positive news on payments and contracts, there has already been substantial financial hardships and fallout among suppliers. Our research found that as of May 12, 2020:
6% of organisations said they had a key supplier go out of business
11% said they had multiple key suppliers go out of business
20% said they had a supplier declare fore majeure on contract obligations
Our analysis shows that the companies hit the hardest by COVID-19 were more than 50% likely to have multiple key suppliers go out of business compared to other organisations.
The Economic Forecast: Cloudy with 100% Chance of Unpredictability
Predicting what’s next economically is difficult, and possibly even an exercise in futility. We’ve heard it all from the experts, with projections changing by the day: V-shaped recoveries, U-shaped recoveries… and even the swoosh.
What’s not hard to predict: regardless of how fast the economy recovers, the response from procurement teams will continue to play a critical role in ongoing business continuity and financial resiliency. During the pandemic, 65% of organisations had to source alternative supplies for affected categories. Procurement responded quickly and effectively – with 53% able to lock down new suppliers in less than three weeks, and 18% finding new suppliers in a week’s time.
Post-pandemic, it will be interesting to watch if and how contracts evolve, and the weight put behind different conditions and KPIs. We are already expecting macro supply chain strategy shifts , which will naturally impact sourcing decisions and contract negotiations. Expect to see even more emphasis put behind collaborative supplier relationships, and new investments in predictive analytics and supplier risk monitoring, specifically as it relates to financial viability.
The financial picture remains uncertain at best. How are procurement and supply chain leaders responding? Get the latest in our “Supply Chain Confidence and Recovery” Report.
Procurement and supply chain leaders are experiencing newfound appreciation and opportunity following their response to COVID-19.
COVID-19 hit supply networks hard. So hard, in fact, that 97% of organisations experienced a related disruption. Still, there’s more to the story than disruption and chaos.
Insights shared by over 600 procurement and supply chain professionals actually paints a positive and inspiring picture: supply chain and procurement leaders were prepared – and responded brilliantly – when faced with a global pandemic that literally brought the whole world to a sudden halt. Now they have an opportunity to reset the procurement agenda.
A Look Beneath the Surface
Consider the data beyond headlines. While nearly every organisation was impacted, only 17% said the supply chain disruption was severe. On the other hand, almost half agreed the impact was minimal or moderate.
Similarly, despite the macro economic turmoil, the impact on supplier payments has been relatively modest. Most contracts and supplier relationships survived the chaos, showing the strength of existing relationships and strategies. According to our research:
58% of organisations are still operating and paying their suppliers per contract,
14% are speeding up payments to suppliers,
6% are providing direct financial support.
When the pandemic affected supply chains directly, procurement responded quickly and effectively. The majority of organisations (65%) were forced to source alternative suppliers for affected categories. As of early June, 79% of those surveyed had already found alternative suppliers for affected categories, with 53% locking down new suppliers in less than three weeks. Amazingly, 18% were able to find new suppliers in only a weeks’ time. This response has not gone unnoticed.
The Spotlight Shines Bright
The agility shown by procurement and supply chain leaders, along with their ongoing criticality in managing the crisis, has been a boon for the function with executives and board members.
“The crisis has put procurement in the spotlight,” commented Ian Thompson, Regional Director, UK and Nordics at Ivalua, a source-to-pay technology provider. “There are a lot of talented executives now getting the attention of the c-suite for the first time.”
When we asked how leadership leveraged procurement and supply chains teams during the crisis, only 16% of survey respondents said they were still being viewed tactically. On the other hand, 40% said their recommendations are solicited more than usual and 22% said they now have a seat at the executive table with input on key decisions.
“For as long as I remember, the question has always been how do we make the C in CPO a real part of the c-suite?” said Thompson. “It’s finally happening, and procurement needs to capitalise.”
According to Thompson, the key is taking advantage of the new platform. “Now that you have the attention of the c-suite, you need to have an agenda, and use the platform to properly set the record straight for what procurement is all about, and what’s possible. When called upon, you can fix the problem, or, you can fix the problem and reframe the conversation internally.”
The heightened attention has also led to renewed interest in procurement and supply chain careers. As a result of the crisis, nearly 62% of all respondents and 71% of millennials said their interest in procurement and supply chain has increased.
“The interest is very high. Procurement has become an essential function during the crisis, especially on the direct side. We have procurement teams that are fueling the food supply chain, sanitising the country and ensuring the flow of essential services across the globe. More people are recognising the importance of procurement and supply chain,” said Thompson.
The current dynamic should lead to fresh career opportunities for Generation Next. The function’s performance during the crisis sets the stage for increased investments in talent development and technology, a bigger seat at the executive table, and new opportunities for ambitious practitioners to make their mark.
If there’s one thing this crisis has taught us, it’s how quickly things can change overnight. Don’t think we are out of the woods, just because supply chain risk has declined. Our community has never been more vulnerable.
Publication of our Supply Chain Confidence Index, quickly followed by riskmethod’s Risk Report has created a “perfect storm” of data to show that now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant and proactively address supply chain risk.
Aside from the obvious pandemic outbreak risk increase, which riskmethods reports is 34.7 times that of 2019, changes are impacting virtually every aspect of business. Some of which include:
A major increase in cyber security risk-related warnings, stemming from the transition to working from home
Substantial growth in risk associated with labor practices and human rights, as well as employee stability
A 26% increase in natural hazard risk
And with lack of visibility into supplier and geographic risk topping the list of lessons learned from COVID-19, it’s clear our job here is not done.
Putting out the fire
The lack of visibility, data and agility acted as an accelerant, enabling the disruption to spread like wildfire from supplier to supplier. Procurious found that:
The hardest-hit companies were more than 50% likely to have multiple key suppliers go out of business due to COVID-19
30% of CEOs had a supplier declare Force Majeure
65% of organisations were forced to source alternative suppliers for affected categories
Consider all the ‘prepare for the second wave’ and ‘the worst is yet to come’ talk a storm warning. The weatherman may not be 100% accurate, but it’s almost always a matter of when and to what extent, then whether it will happen at all. We need to keep supply chain risk on our radar.
Not only did our research indicate supply chain and procurement leaders are still bracing for peak impact, the riskmethods 2020 Risk Report predicts more damage to come, as supplier financial distress risk was 105% higher in May than the beginning of the crisis.
Most economists expect a second wave of bankruptcies – with one recognised expert predicting the amount of large bankruptcies (at least $100 million) will challenge the record set after the 2008 financial crisis.
So, how do we avoid another disaster? This year, riskmethods reported a 34% increase in early supply chain disruption warnings compared to the same time period in 2019, including:
A 151% increase in disasters at partner sites
A 100% increase in disasters at location
A 45% increase in instability in key employee positions
This urgency placed around supply chain risk management should not be viewed as negative. The newfound spotlight gives our profession the spotlight we need to expedite critical decision making and drive real change.
While the extent of the impact of COVID on our supply chains is no longer surprising, the disruption offers a clear and urgent call-to-action for global organisations to rethink and rebuild supply chain risk management strategies from the ground floor.
Our Index showed that failing to invest in SCRM was the No. 1 technology regret during COVID-19. The majority of respondents (73%) are planning significant procurement and supply chain strategy shifts. For many, this means increased investments in supply chain and procurement technology. The emerging and Industry 4.0 technologies that show the most promise for mitigating future supply disruptions include:
Robotic process automation
Internet of Things
Additive manufacturing and 3D printing
We still have a long way to go before we even determine what ‘business-as-usual’ will look like—never mind reach it again. And when that happens, remember: the worst thing to do when it comes to supply chain risk management is nothing at all.
Join us and riskmethods on Tuesday, July 28 as we reflect on lessons learned and continue crowdsourcing confidence with fresh data from the frontlines. Register now.
2020 is the year of things that seemed easy suddenly being oh so hard. Take going out for dinner, for example, which many of us took for granted until restaurants worldwide were shut. Or from a work perspective, ease of logistics. Closed borders in every continent has certainly presented way more issues than any of us ever thought possible.
And yet another area of life that always presented its own challenges, and now even more so, is looking for a job. Whether you’ve been made redundant or stood down, or you’re starting to feel as if the pandemic isn’t bringing out the best in your employer, the prospect of job hunting right now seems a little scary. What’s even out there? Will I ever find something? And how do I manage my emotions in such an unstable time?
To help guide you through your job search, we spoke to two highly experienced recruiters, Imelda Walsh, Manager of The Source, an boutique procurement recruitment agency based in Australia, and Christina Langley, Consultant at Langley Search and Interim in the UK. Both enlightened us on not only the nuts and bolts of how to manage your job search at the moment, but also how to best manage and talk about your experiences if you have found yourself unemployed.
I’m not feeling that confident at the moment. Is that ok?
At the best of times, job searching can feel a little daunting. But right now, job searching can feel downright terrifying. With job listings in some sectors in the UK down by up to 59%, and job listings in Australia following a similar trend (latest reports show listings are down 54%), many people are feeling overwhelmed by the competition out there, but at the same time underwhelmed by their ability to break back into the market, especially if they’re unemployed. But is the situation so dire when it comes to procurement?
Christina certainly doesn’t think so, as many of her clients are actively hiring for roles. Yet at the same time, she understands that procurement professionals may be feeling a range of emotions right now:
‘How people feel right now depends on their coping strategies. Some will feel empowered and organised; confident in their skillset and pragmatic about what they will consider.’
‘Others may be in denial, unable to view themselves in the context of what has happened. They may be feeling angry, or even struggling with home obligations so it might be difficult to devote the time needed to find another role.’
I’m unemployed right now. How should I be looking for a job?
There’s no doubt that looking for a job right now can be stressful. So how do you ensure that you don’t get caught up in it all, and spend hours and hours obsessively looking for anything and everything?
When it comes to job searching, Imelda says that you need to make a plan and stick to it:
‘Start your job search by defining what roles you want. And at this time especially, I’d also recommend having a plan b. Be clear on what you want but also what you’d accept if you don’t get what you’re looking for in a certain amount of time.’
But what about if you’re really keen to get back to work? Should you apply for anything just in case?
‘No.’ Imelda says.
‘Be strategic about what you apply for, and don’t apply for something that doesn’t genuinely interest you, as this will dilute your profile and make you look desperate.’
Throughout the job search process, Christina says it’s critical to keep balance in your life, and to make sure you’re exercising, eating and sleeping well. Beyond that though, Christina says that like anything, in your job search you need to create achievable goals:
‘Give yourself goals, such as, this week I’m going to network by contacting ten former bosses or colleagues, next week I’m going to write my CV.’
‘Completing these actions will make you feel like you are making progress.’
How do I network effectively at the moment?
Right now, it’s fair to say that most people have a lot going on, with many still working through the pandemic and what it means for their jobs and lives. Thinking about careers and networking might not be at the top of everyone’s mind, so it may feel awkward or inappropriate to network.
Christina believes, though, that we don’t need to feel embarrassed about networking right now. It’s all about mindset, she says, and thinks that we need to change the fundamental question we ask:
‘It’s not “please do you have a job?” but instead “please let me know if you hear of anything.”’
Imelda and Christina both believe that if you are networking, you need to be systematic and targeted in how you do so. Specifically, Imelda recommends:
‘Start by researching the market. What industries are hiring right now? In many parts of the world, that might be healthcare, government, FMCG, tech and a few others.’
‘After you’ve done your research, figure out, ideally, what industry, company and leader you’d like to work for.’
‘Then specifically connect with them or ask to be introduced on platforms such as Procurious and LinkedIn.’
Actually connecting with people should only form part of this process though, Imelda says. The other part is giving back to the community and growing your personal brand and presence. The best way to do this is to be proactive online, through sharing your opinion via commenting on what others are doing and saying in your industry, and publishing your own thought-leadership articles.
How do I interview confidently?
Interviews are nerve-wracking at the best of times. But especially if you’re unemployed, and especially during a pandemic, they can be particularly nerve-wracking.
Fortunately, Imelda and Christina both believe there are many things we can do to calm our nerves before an interview, and especially one with a hiring manager.
Imelda believes the key to good interview performance is preparation. Prior to any interview, she says that it’s imperative that you know your resume:
‘Before an interview, ensure that you can explain all of your roles and your amazing achievements. To do this, reflect on your career and the value you’ve delivered.’
‘And make sure you’ve done your research. Practice storytelling and have answers prepared to common questions.’
Preparation, in and of itself, can make you feel more calm. But if it hasn’t completely taken away the nerves, do whatever you need to just prior to the interview to get yourself ready:
‘Whatever it takes to make you feel better. Meditate, listen to your favourite song, practice your answers in the mirror. If it works for you, ensure you do it!’
As someone who interviews hundreds of people in any given year, Imelda does acknowledge that interviews can be harder than they seem. But at the same time, she thinks that we need not be too hard on ourselves. Hiring managers and recruiters alike know that it’s a difficult market, and that many people have been stood down. The key, she thinks, is to be able to effectively explain your time off:
‘The pandemic is global – everyone knows what is happening. So if you’ve found yourself with a resume gap, people will generally understand.’
‘But still, a good explanation of what you’ve been doing will help. For example, if you say you’ve been doing “nothing” managers might be a little concerned. But if you say you’ve used the time to upskill, or even to progress a personal hobby or project, that will suffice.’
Recruiters can also be a big help if you’re nervous, Christina says. Specifically, she encourages all candidates to ask questions in order to understand the big picture of any job they may be going for:
‘Always ask your recruitment consultant for the real story and requirements beneath the job description.’
‘And also try and find out about the hiring managers who will be interviewing you. What is their background? Where have they worked? Etc.’
How do I know if I’m nervous in an interview?
Try as we might, sometimes it’s just not possible to get rid of interview jitters. But how do you know if you’ve successfully squashed your nerves or not? There’s a few things that give you away, Imelda says … and they may not be what you think.
‘Fumbling over words, sweating, nervous twitches like shaking a leg, a lack of eye contact, or even talking too fast and rambling are common signs you’re nervous.’
Christina agrees, adding that your voice volume can also give you away:
‘If someone’s nervous, they often talk too loudly or even too quietly.’
While these might be common signs of nervousness, Imelda has also seen a couple of other less common signs of nervousness that we should all be aware of:
‘Often, candidates are told to use “power poses” before the interview to calm nerves. But a couple of times, I’ve seen the overuse of power posing, for example, sitting back in a chair with a leg up on your knee, in interviews.’
‘Although this may feel commanding, it is often a compensation for nerves.’
Note to all: keep the power posing to before the interview!
What should I talk about in an interview?
The world of procurement has most certainly undergone a shake up since the pandemic. So does this mean that employers are looking for certain traits and experiences now that may not have been as important before?
Imelda certainly thinks so.
She’s seen the following shift in what employers are looking for:
‘We’re seeing an even bigger focus than ever on supplier relationships. Organisations are wanting procurement to have a genuine strategic relationship with vendors, meaning they can lean on them in times of need.’
Beyond supplier relationships, Imelda believes that the soft skills that were always considered important in procurement are considered even more important now:
‘Your ability to influence, engage and be customer-focused is even more critical right now.’
‘Beyond that, businesses want savvy procurement professionals who know that now is no time to waste a crisis. Instead, now is the time to step up and show the importance of procurement.’
‘Innovate, be open to change and take advantage of this opportunity to make a positive difference.’
How is job search going at the moment? Are you having to do anything differently? Let us know in the comments below.
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In supply chain and procurement, what has changed since COVID-19? Find out what 4 influencers think here.
In every industry, there’s a few powerful individuals who drive the conversation. These fortunate few are the ones that propel industries forward; they are the ones who decide what’s trending, what’s next and what our future might look like. They’re influencers, and within the procurement professional, we’re blessed with many whom we all aspire to.
And this year, with COVID ravaging our supply chains (and not to mention lives) as we know them, we’ve needed industry leaders and influencers more than ever to help guide us through and tell us what’s next. So that’s why, recently, we sought out the opinions of 30 of procurement’s top influencers. They shared some of their most profound and intriguing insights into what the COVID experience has been like for them, what they’ve learnt and what they expect to see in the future.
Here’s what they told us:
Inspiring supply chain stories
There’s no doubt that the past few months have been challenging for procurement professionals worldwide, with many stories of interrupted supply chains, logistics issues and much more. Yet in among the mayhem has been some truly inspiring stories. Here at Procurious, almost daily, we heard of businesses, teams and people that were going above and beyond to help.
This was something that our influencers noticed, too. One thing that caught the attention of Supply Chain Queen Sheri R. Hinish is the incredible generosity of suppliers. She explains:
‘I was particularly impressed by Under Armour’s (clothing brand) sister company, Sagamore Spirits. They provided thousands of units of hand sanitizer for local businesses, communities, and residents.’
Indeed, there were hundreds of suppliers who, seemingly overnight, transformed their production from items such as high fashion to scrubs. But for Kelly Barner, Managing Director of Buyer’s Meeting Point, the inspiration came not from suppliers, but from the extraordinary efforts of procurement professionals who previously may not have been noticed:
‘Businesses everywhere are sorting out tough problems. But behind those problems are armies of unlikely characters self-organising to make things happen.’
‘Business leaders should pay attention and notice who runs toward the fire. It might not be who they expected.’
Learning from COVID-19
One quick Google search will reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of articles dedicated to what the supply chain profession should learn from the coronavirus pandemic. There’s been discussions of everything from the need to move manufacturing from China to Mexico, to better managing cash, dialling down just-in-time operations and everything in between.
Dr. Marcell Vollmer, Chief Innovation Officer at Celonis, a process mining software company, believes that the pandemic has been a reminder of what we all already knew, but may yet to have embraced:
‘The number one lesson I think we all need to learn from COVID is to prepare and leverage technology to get full transparency and control over your end to end processes.’
‘We all need to be using technology to prepare ourselves for unforeseeable events as much as possible.’
Marcell’s learning here is sound – for years, we’ve all known that Industry 4.0 is coming, yet COVID may have accelerated its onset.
For another influencer, Diego De la Garza, Senior Director of Global Services at Corcentric, the COVID learnings were about the way we worked. Specifically, Diego thinks that the pandemic has made us more productive:
‘Working from home, it has impacted productivity, for the better. My team has been able to dedicate more time to critical tasks, while at the same time balancing work with family.’
‘Still, it’s remained ultimately very possible for everyone to collaborate and perform efficiently.’
Aspirations for procurement post-COVID
For seemingly as long as the procurement profession has existed, many of us have wanted more and better. We’ve wanted to be strategic, to have a voice and influence, and to finally add the value we know we’re capable of delivering.
Will the pandemic represent the ultimate opportunity for us to do so?
Sheri R. Hinish, Supply Chain Queen, thinks the answer is a big, fat resounding yes:
‘Supply chain has never had as big a seat as the table as they do right now.’
‘My hope is that we embrace a paradigm shift from “lowest price” to shared value and responsibility. Everyone now sees that supply chains are the conduit that power the world.’
The performance of procurement throughout the crisis
59% of procurement and supply chain professionals say the Fortune 500 should reduce globalisation by bringing manufacturing back home. But is it practical?
The best way to describe the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19: pervasive and severe.
Our research found that 97% of the organisations experienced a supply chain disruption. Let that sink in for a second. We knew the supply chain impact of COVID-19 was extensive. This finding takes it up another level – indicating the disruption was near ubiquitous.
So what’s next? The majority of procurement and supply chain professionals (73%) are planning seismic strategy shifts post-pandemic – and rightfully so. Changes under consideration include expanding supply bases, adjusting inventory strategies, increasing financing for key suppliers and localising supply chains. The latter is the most ambitious, and will be the hardest.
Obstacles to Bringing Manufacturing Back Home
The idea of reducing globalisation in response to COVID-19 is both popular and logical. Nearly 60% of those surveyed believe the Fortune 500 should reduce globalisation by localising supply chains and bringing manufacturing back home.
But as every industry veteran knows, doing so is easier said than done. Modern supply networks and production strategies were built to be global. Reversing this will require fundamental strategy, technology and financial changes.
Consider the core drivers of supply chain globalisation. First and foremost: it’s about costs. The never-ending race to the bottom has made low-cost country sourcing the norm for procurement. At the same time, products – especially smart technologies – are getting more innovative, complex, personalised and sophisticated by the day. This forces manufacturers to outsource critical components to other manufacturers, who outsource to sub-suppliers, and so-on. The sheer expertise and technical capabilities needed to produce smart and connected products (consumer electronics, cars, healthcare equipment, etc.) goes well beyond what one manufacturer could reasonably provide on their own.
As Harvard Business School professor Willy Shih puts it: “A consequence of these complex interdependencies is a deep tiering of supply chains, with manufacturers dependent on their first-tier suppliers, which, in turn, are dependent on a second tier, which are themselves dependent on a third tier, and so on. Visibility into third, fourth, and more distant tiers is challenging, making wholesale replacement of anyone in the chain, let alone the entire chain, extremely difficult.”
In other words: reversing decades’ worth of low-country sourcing strategies, supplier specialization and network expansion will be complex, time-consuming and costly.
While organisations will take the necessary time to evaluate the brand, supply chain and product ramifications of such a change, the national implications are more urgent. Nations across the world – including Australia, the UK and the U.S. – are making big investments to bring manufacturing, especially for critical healthcare supplies, back home. This problem erupted early in the COVID cycle due to global shortages of masks and ventilators, and has become more pronounced as countries prepare to develop vaccines, once approved.
The issue: According to the Financial Times, World Bank data shows “manufacturing’s share of the economy in the US, UK and Australia has shrunk to its lowest level in more than 30 years to 11 percent, 9 percent and 6 percent respectively.” In a time of crisis, where life-saving equipment is needed as soon as possible, the delays creating by strained, outsourced supply chains are highly limiting, to say the least.
What’s Next for Procurement and Supply Chain Leaders?
The pandemic was a wakeup call. But what happens next remains uncertain. Will enterprises invest to reconstruct supply chains, or decide to make more targeted strategy and resource tweaks? Will they see this pandemic as a black swan event or a fundamental course-changer? Only time will tell.
We want to hear what you’re planning. Share your thoughts below.