Tag Archives: diversity and inclusion

Putting The ‘I’ In D & I

By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works…

In today’s workforce, diversity has become a buzzword, with organisations increasingly communicating its importance through their advertising and core business values.

But what does diversity mean, why is it important, how do you achieve it and, once you have it, what do you do with it?

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead explains that there is an enormous pressure for organisations to hire people that are different. But alongside that moral pressure to ‘do the right thing’ is a very strong business case. “A UK report revealed that the British economy could be boosted by as much as £24 billion if black and minority talent was fully utilised . When you have a diversified workforce you have a broader [talent pool] who are able to bring different ways of working, different ways of dealing with issues and can provide greater innovation.”

Putting the ‘I’ in D & I

As Joelle points out, there is no point in building a diverse workforce if it is not nurtured into being an inclusive one. “To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce it’s vital to have an inclusive environment where everyone is treated equally, feels welcome to participate and can achieve their potential”

Diversity = The What

A mix of diverse types of people

Inclusion = The How

The strategies and behaviours that welcome, embrace and create value from diversity

“What is really at stake is not diversity, but inclusion. How do you make sure your diverse workforce will generate the expected benefits – that increased profitability – no matter who they are. You cannot simply integrate a human being [to the workforce] because they come with their own character and uniqueness.

“How do you ensure [everyone is able to] give their best to the company?”

  1. Let People Be Themselves: It is the employer’s role to ensure that all employees, no matter their specific characteristics, can be themselves. “In the corporate world we all have to fit in but fitting in doesn’t mean you forget who you are.”
  2. Equity – The entire employee base should be given equal chances whether that’s an equal chance to be promoted, equal pay or other opportunities within the organisation.
  3. Intersectionality – A black man, who is a wheelchair user and identifies as gay might endure multiple forms of discrimination at the same time. To better include this person it doesn’t make sense to only address one of these factors – you can’t foster an inclusive environment without addressing everything. D & I teams often isolate their efforts on one particular minority group but the experience of a white woman might be very different to that of a black women, and that needs to be addressed when it comes to developing D & I strategies and policies.
  4. Safe space – Employees should be encouraged to speak up about these issues without fear of retaliation. “Organisations must ensure their people management approaches don’t put any group at a disadvantage.”

“What I want people to take away is that diversity and inclusion (D & I) is not only for women or for people of different ethnicities or sexual orientation. It is for everybody. D & I , which is much more important than diversity, means that we need to provide each human being with equal treatment in the corporate world. By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works.”

Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

Procure with Purpose

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 Diversity and Inclusion.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

How To Become A Corporate Superstar Overnight

Bravo! Tania Seary shares her thoughts on gender disparity in procurement, having the courage to  get big ideas through big companies and why procurement is THE career choice if you want to become a corporate superstar overnight!

Kaspars Grinvalds/ Shutterstock

Procurious Founder, Tania Seary, remembers her first day in a procurement role as a game-changing moment in her career.

“I’d had some fantastic jobs in marketing and communications but nothing struck me like that first day I worked in procurement, moving from one side of the table to the other. It was a real rush.”

For Tania, the scope and scale of the function along with the ability to impact so many parts of the business meant that she was sold straight away.

Like so many of procurement’s rising stars, Tania fell into the profession unexpectedly.  Speaking to peers on her MBA course at Penn State, she was fascinated by the number of people who aspired to go into procurement roles. When she questioned their reasons, the answer was always “because you can become a corporate superstar overnight, saving millions of dollars for the organisation.”

In procurement, they told Tania, the CEO and CFO know who you are and you can get promoted quickly. “It sounded like a great idea to an ambitious 30-something … and as I said, once I got to the other side of table I was really hooked.”

On Day 3 of the Bravo podcast series Tania Seary shares her thoughts on gender disparity, getting big ideas through big companies and the importance of having a human touch in procurement.

Getting your big ideas heard

Courage is one of the key attributes required to drive the best ideas forward, along with resilience and the ability to choose your projects wisely. “Getting a big idea though a big company takes a lot of energy and time”, explains Tania.  She shares her top two tips for getting big ideas off the ground:

  1. Do your homework and have a strong business case – You can really build support across your organisation as you’re building your business case, then fall back on those people as your support network when you get challenged at the senior level.
  2. Choose your sponsors wisely – It’s vital to have a corporate sponsor for some of these courageous projects, but make sure they’re not simply picking you to be involved as the flavour of the day. Find someone to help who understands the business benefits of what you’re putting forward and will support you because they believe in the project.

The human touch goes a long way

Tania stresses the importance of procurement professionals behaving like human beings in the workplace. The old-school  workplace attitude demanded that your personality be left at the door. “It’s increasingly important [for your team] to see that you’re a little bit vulnerable, a little bit human and that they can relate to you.”

At Procurious, we’re often questioned on the benefits of having separate social media accounts for personal versus corporate life. But Tania is a firm believer that you should be one person, with the courage to show your genuine self online, and in the office.

Tania believes that being human will be procurement’s competitive advantage in industry 4.0. “My belief is that our role in industry 4.0 will be to orchestrate and collaborate within this complex tech-enabled web of suppliers.  When robots are pointing us in different directions we have to be the ones who step in and reconcile, playing to our strengths.”

Collaboration, innovation and influence are things only humans can do. “That will be the future of procurement; trusted advisors who can solve complex problems.”

The pay gap 

Gender inequality in procurement is an ongoing concern for Tania. “It’s something that needs to be addressed. Looking at the [pay gap] statistics in the UK, US, and Australia is astonishing.” This hard-hitting data has motivated Tania to be a champion of change for women working in procurement. “I’m really going to be encouraging leaders around the world to tackle this head-on and ensure that their teams are paid equally”, she says.

“It’s something that the whole business world struggles with, but procurement can take a firm stand and be one of the first functions to put its hand up and say we’ve achieved this important goal.”

Tania’s short-term dream for the profession? “If we can say – by the end of 2020 – that we’re a very ethical profession that pays employees fairly, that would be a great result.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

How To Survive And Thrive In An Uncertain Environment

Inspirational speaker, Nicky Abdinor, advises how to create sustainable attitude change and thriving in an uncertain environment. 

Nicky Abdinor’s self-appointed tagline is that she was “born without arms but not without attitude.” It’s a punchy line,  and it also couldn’t be more accurate.

Nicky was born with physical disabilities, no arms and shortened legs and she describes how her parents were totally unprepared for her disability. “In those days there were no scans to [determine] if you were a boy or a girl let alone if you had a physical disability. But I’m so grateful they chose to focus on my strengths.”

As she grew up, it was never a case of “can Nicky do this?” rather “how is Nicky going to be able to do this?”

Nicky believes her upbringing helped her to  adapt to her disability and flourish. “A big part of my success is having that nurturing environment and access to mainstream schooling.  I was encouraged to take part in all activities and I’ve learnt to do things just a little bit differently.” Nicky was unable to do things the same way as everyone else on a physical level but instead she used her acamdeic abilities and passion for human psychology to her advantage.

She now works as an  international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive.

Creating sustainable attitude change

Nicky’s work as a  clinical psychologist focusses on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The premise of CBT is the belief that “it’s not our situation  determining how we feel or behave but how we think about those situations.”

It’s useful to recognise that so many of us could be experiencing the same or similar situations but we all have entirely unique responses to that situation. The key to actually creating sustainable change, Nicky explains,  in our attitudes, beliefs and emotions is  to understand the core thought processes that we implement on auto-pilot.  An everyday situation  such as a meeting with a manager could trigger  a  particular behaviour. “But we need to understand our thought pattern.  We’re wired to think in a certain way and people don’t realise that you can’t truly change the way you think about a situation until you understand those automatic thought processes.

With some work, it’s possible to recognise your cognitive roadmap and what gets triggered, which is often linked to previous experiences and relationships.

Nicky explains that it is quite liberating to realise we don’t have to change our situation, “we can change how we think about a situation to bring about wellness and a better quality of life. It’s empowering to know we can’t change our situation but we can certainly change the way we react to that situation.”

Thriving in an uncertain environement

Nicky speaks passionately on the concept of uncertainty and how it impacts on our every day lives.

“A lot of people come for therapy because they are anxious about the future. A big part of what I do is help people learn to tolerate uncertainty.  None of us have absolute control over what the future holds. Ultimately, people find it hard to tolerate because they place demands on themselves that they have to know whats going to happen.”

In a corporate setting the same applies. Leaders of today are concerned about reaching their targets, will there be another recession, what’s going to happen to the political landscape of my country and how will it impact by business? We want to know exactly what’s going to happen.

But, Nicky argues, we must learn to tolerate that uncertainty, which ultimately means teaching yourself to live in the present . “If we worry too much about tomorrow,  we cannot enjoy today,””

When it comes to hiring talent,  recruiters need to ascertain whether applicants understand this concept. “Can that person deal with uncertainty, does that person have the ability to recognise the limitations for going into the future. When we have the ability to understand uncertainty we can achieve so much more. Worrying is a waste of time and we need a bit of anxiety to motivate us to do the right thing, be ambitious and reach your goals.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

Nicky Abdinor was a keynote speaker at Big Ideas Summit Sydney earlier this year and wowed our audience. You can watch her presentation in full here and get in touch with Nicky regarding speaking opportunities here (Procurious HQ couldn’t recommend her more!) 

Can We Tell You A Procurement Story?

When we say a story, what we really mean is five stories.

In Bravo, a new five-part procurement podcast series, we interview five inspiring and courageous women to discover the secrets to their success.

Discover why you should become a master storyteller, learn how to focus on your strengths, and listen as we debate critical issues including the salary gap, key procurement skills and the greatest challenges facing the profession.

What is the Bravo podcast series?

Bravo sponsored by Telstra, is a five-part procurement podcast series celebrating women in procurement. The series features five, fifteen-minute podcasts that have been designed to give you some inspiring insights from five top thought leaders in the profession.

How do I listen to the podcast series?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be re-directed to the Bravo group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on 26th November with a daily podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

Is the podcast series available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can access the podcasts and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here!

When does the podcast series take place. 

Starting on the 26th November the series will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from speakers plus group discussions and articles on Procurious. When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

Podcast speakers

1. Thomai Veginis – CPO – Telstra

Thomai is the CPO of Telstra, and as such holds one of the very top CPO roles in Australia, with an eye-watering total spend of $14 billion, a portfolio of 36 categories, and nearly 200 procurement and supply chain staff reporting through to her.

2. Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the weekly podcast Inside Influence.

3. Carlee McGowan, GM Planning – Telstra

Carlee McGowan is a strategic manager with extensive Supply Chain end to end business acumen and a passion for driving and delivering best practice opportunities. She has worked for over 25 years in the field, with profession extending across fast moving consumer goods, retail, telco and international environments.

A change leader who has established, mentored and lead teams, and is known for her passion in customer centric Supply Chain Management using Sales and Operations Planning principles to create end to end business plans to exceed business objectives.

4. Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

5. Nicky Abdinor, Clinical psychologist and show-stopping motivational speaker

Nicky Abdinor is an international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa, where she runs her clinical practice. Nicky travels globally for keynote speaking events and has spoken at conferences across Africa, Europe, the USA, Australia and the Middle East.  Nicky is always commended on being a “credible” agent of change whether you are connecting with her one-on-one or from an audience. When you meet Nicky, it is hard not to recognise that she puts her message into practice. She was born without arms, not without attitude!

Bravo, the podcast series sponsored by Telstra,  goes live on 26th November 2018. Sign up now (it’s free) to access the series.

Advocating For Inclusion Is The Best Way To Get It

Advocacy increases inclusion. Being an advocate makes a difference and you can increase inclusion by using your voice within your network… 

Small acts of advocacy are all it takes to make a social movement. The #metoo movement was for the 12 years prior to last year’s Harvey Weinstein scandal a very small force for change. It wasn’t one single event that caused the social explosion. But it was when sufficient people acted in concert that it became a social movement.

And it certainly isn’t just about hashtags. With the current US President’s finger firmly on the Twitter trigger, you might think It is. There are so many more voices advocating publicly for their position. That makes it even more important to make your advocacy effective, not just noisy. I’m not ruling out social media as a tool for advocating, but it’s a means, not a message.  I’m going to rely instead on a Gandhian approach –  ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.

Advocacy increases inclusion. You can increase inclusion by using your voice within your network. By speaking out more about the importance of inclusion, you can create more inclusion.  More people will feel included and more people will join you to advocate for inclusion. If you raise your voice with confidence you will be a social force for change. People will feel included and experience a greater sense of belonging.

Being an advocate makes a difference, yet many leaders don’t feel comfortable advocating.

Some people don’t advocate because they think that saying it once is enough. If you say it once, everyone will get it. If you’ve got or work with kids, you’ll see through that one straight away! It’s not that different if you work with adults.

Another reason we don’t advocate is because we believe others are advocating, their efforts will be enough for the message to get through. It won’t make any difference whether or not I do.

Still others don’t advocate because they don’t think their single voice has much weight; it doesn’t seem worth it.

The harder thing that stops people advocating is that they don’t believe they can be powerful enough to make change: a social movement seems to take a lot of effort to organise without a guaranteed outcome; it all seems too much.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette is an example of using your own story to advocate for change. Not all advocacy needs this degree of personal disclosure to be effective.

Advocacy that resonates with those around you is like a swarm of starlings, a murmuration. When the individual birds come together they create a powerful and amazing sight. The magic of it is that this happens because each bird pays attention to just seven of their neighbours. Starlings are ordinary birds, all it takes is for seven of them to pay attention to each other, to get in sync, and they create something extraordinary.

Just like the starlings don’t have to influence the whole flock, don’t try to influence a crowd. Focus on seven key people around you, and magically, you too will influence a social movement.

Procurement Professionals: Get Your Blinkers Off!

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!

Simon Burt/ Shutterstock

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…

The Facts

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.”

Veterans:

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.

Neurodiversities 

“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. 

Disabled Does Not Mean Disqualified: Challenge Your Perceptions of Ability

How can procurement professionals make disability work in the workplace? 

This blog was written by Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba. 


One of the greatest joys of my work at SAP Ariba is the opportunity to wear more than one hat; not only heading up our payments business but also serving as the executive sponsor of our diversity and inclusion efforts. At the core of our D&I strategy is an aspiration to build an inclusive culture around the customer, innovation, and employee experience to enable us to become the most diverse company in the cloud.

Recently, I had the honor of hosting SAP Ariba’s popular Diversity and Inclusion luncheon at Ariba Live Amsterdam. This year’s theme, Rising Above the Impossible, focused on the importance of disability inclusion and leveraging accessible technology for better business outcomes because SAP Ariba recognizes them as important to the future of the workplace. For the event we assembled disability inclusion experts from different parts of the globe, and I had the great pleasure to get to know a group of phenomenal and courageous women, including our keynote speaker Nicky Abdinor (Nicky’s Drive) and panelists Lesa Bradshaw (Bradshaw LeRoux), Tania Seary (Procurious), Susan Scott-Parker (BDI), and Stefanie Nennstiel (SAP). I’d like to share with you three nuggets of wisdom from my discussion with them that has left a lasting impression:

1. “If You’ve Got the Drive, the Destination Is Up to You.”

I will never forget Nicky Abdinor, a clinical psychologist, who touched our hearts and minds as she challenged all perceptions around ability with her core message to focus on what you can do versus what’s you can’t. She graciously shared her personal story of overcoming her disability by focusing on her ability to create sustainable change in her attitude, beliefs, and emotions to achieve the possible. She shared her mantra with the audience: “If you’ve got the drive, the destination is up to you.” I thought this was a great takeaway we can all relate to and apply in our lives because no matter if the disability is visible or invisible, we all have the power within us to choose to achieve the possible.

2. “Make Disability Work in the Workplace”

The talent pipeline and impact on the future of procurement is top-of-mind for our Procurement professionals. I see now more than ever that a diverse workforce is imperative for a business to survive in the digital era and is a topic that all our audiences want to discuss.

Our panelists were candid and offered some practical advice for all to use when they returned to their businesses, particularly around “making disability work in the workplace.” Companies must commit to building an inclusive culture that allows all employees, not just the perceived majority, to thrive at work. This begins with recruiting and retaining diverse talent.

At SAP Ariba, we are building our strong foundation by empowering employees to uncover their unconscious biases, which we all carry as human beings, and learning to eliminate bias from decision-making for better outcomes with our Business Beyond Bias training program. In addition, the panelists encouraged the audience to ensure their companies develop a disability and inclusion strategy to empower managers to make intentional decisions around reasonable accommodations that allow everyone the same opportunity to perform their job responsibilities. For example, SAP Ariba has made the intentional decision to participate in the Autism at Work Program because we value neurodiversity and are seeking a specific set of skills to enhance our workforce to widen our perspective on the business. Our disability and inclusion strategy enables our managers to go beyond traditional sources of talent, and this has made a positive impact in our overall employee morale.

From experience, we know that innovations often originate from unlikely sources.

3. Accessible Technology Can Make a Real Difference

Another critical component that enhances the success of disability and inclusion efforts is accessible technologies. The benefits extend from the home to the workplace, as accessible technologies transform the way people with disabilities contribute and thrive. They serve as a tremendous equalizer leading to retention, development and advancement. At SAP Ariba, we are deeply committed to ensuring that accessible technologies are integrated into our business.  We are amplifying this approach by promoting the importance of accessible technologies among buyers and suppliers and buyers on the Ariba Network.

The Important Role of Procurement

Procurement leaders play an important role in bringing visibility to the value of a supplier diversity strategy that can increase competitive advantage through an inclusive supply chain, offering opportunities to underrepresented suppliers. By now, we are all familiar with the research that shows companies that embrace diversity are more profitable. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading The 2018 Delivery Through Diversity Report by McKinsey for the latest data and insights.

As I reflect on my wonderful experience learning from our knowledgeable disability and inclusion experts, I feel hopeful and encouraged with the opportunities available to procurement professionals to make a positive contribution toward building an inclusive workforce and a diverse supply chain. Ultimately, as we embrace business with a purpose, the ability to contribute toward the greater good of society fuels my passion for leading and implementing diversity and inclusion within procurement.

Julie Gerdeman is GM and Global Head of Payments & Financing at SAP Ariba. 

Don’t Go Chasing Procurement Unicorns

Trying to build a team of procurement unicorns? You might just want to re-think your strategy…

What makes a procurement unicorn?

They’ve got the grades, the qualifications and years of relevant experience. They tick off every core procurement skill in the book and they’ve worked for some big-name companies.

In short; on paper, they’re perfect.

If you’re self-proclaimed unicorn hunter, you’re probably hoping to fill your entire procurement team with a herd of these mythical creatures. Because you think that’s what’s best for your business…

And that’s where you’d be very wrong. Because in today’s world, Unicorn = Uniform!

With this narrow outlook on your recruitment processes, you run the risk of missing out on extraordinary talents.

It’s impossible to know the unique skills, experience and perspective that a potential hire can bring to your team if you don’t open your mind to their many differences and diversities.

In our upcoming webinar Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns we’ll be celebrating individuality. Join us on 18th July as we explore how organisations can better accommodate people  who are differently abled; whether it’s those with physical disabilities or people who are neuro-diverse.

We’ll be discussing:

  • The importance and benefits of recruiting and retaining differently-abled people to your teams
  • Why it is such terrible idea to set your sights on procurement unicorns!
  • How  procurement pros can help to build truly diverse teams and foster a workplace environment that is inclusive to everyone?
  • How are some of the biggest organisations making the workplace inclusive and accessible for everyone?

Who is speaking on the webinar?

Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

Darren Swift

In 1991 Swifty was injured by a terrorist attack that resulted in him loosing both his legs above the knee. During his extensive rehab he made a decision to not let his injury affect his life or career going forward.

Since then Swifty has gone on to achieve a huge amount including becoming the first ever double above knee amputee solo skydiver and snowboarder. Swifty’s unique and inspiring story demonstrates the need for employers to be open minded when hiring as without this outlook they could miss out on an extraordinary talent!

Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson

Timo is responsible for the procurement of Facility Services across J&J’s global portfolio, including leading recent initiatives in EMEA and APAC. He is a key part of the team that has implemented the ‘Social Impact through Procurement’ initiative through the J&J business in the UK, including driving the introduction of Social Enterprises into the facilities supply base. It is this work with social enterprises that will help J&J reach its target of a £15 million of social value spend by 2020.

Timo’s work includes contracting a 3 per cent social value target into two regional FM contracts, that will deliver £3 Million of social value across Europe and Asia. Timo believes passionately about the impact that big business can have on impacting the lives of those disadvantaged in our society. He lives in Woking, Surrey, with his wife and two children.

Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba

Julie Gerdeman is GM Payments & Financing at SAP Ariba. In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of the company’s strategy and execution to transform global B2B payments.Prior to this role, Ms. Gerdeman led the SAP Ariba Digital Transformation Organisation. This team of 100+ advisors lead SAP Ariba’s delivery of customer value: from identification, to enablement through realisation.

Before joining SAP Ariba, she held various leadership positions in sales, customer success and marketing at J.P. Morgan Chase and American Express.Ms. Gerdeman holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and lives with her family in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the board of directors for Apparent Financing, an SAP.io funded start-up that leverages data from the Ariba Network to facilitate financing to small business suppliers. Ms. Gerdeman is also the global executive sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion at SAP Ariba and speaks and blogs frequently on this topic.

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Our webinar,  Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns, takes place at 10am EDT/ 3pm BST on 18th July 2018. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

How To Free Your Decisions From Bias

It’s not easy to free yourself and others from decision bias. But the pay off for your organisation is worth it…

A CEO mentioned recently to me his frustration with a few of his Senior Leaders who play the ‘merit card’ whenever diversity is raised. In doing so, they stymie good initiatives. Each small block they construct rebuilds the wall as fast as the CEO and supportive leaders tear it down. ‘What can I do?’ he asked. I shared his pain: invoking the ‘merit card’ is a wicked, if effective, tactic for, paradoxically, subverting merit and keeping control.

The CEO and his leaders have an awareness of unconscious bias and know a bit about how it works. Until recently unconscious bias was heralded as the holy grail for achieving significant improvement in diversity and inclusion outcomes. But the value of unconscious bias training in particular, and diversity training in general, is being challenged.

Dobbin & Kalev’s influential article ‘Why diversity programs fail’ importantly identified that command and control approaches, adopted by many organisations, backfire. You can’t get people to change by telling them to. And you don’t get people to change by blaming them for doing the wrong thing.

Making training about beliefs and preferences mandatory is almost guaranteed to fail. That’s because suppressing unconscious beliefs, to ‘do what’s expected’, is  well-known to make bias more, not less, likely. And that’s the danger with these senior leaders who play the ‘merit card’; their biases may increase rather than decrease.

Unconscious bias awareness is not a silver bullet, it is however, worthwhile. It’s not easy to free yourself and others from decision bias, so what will make it worth the CEO’s effort? You can’t work with it effectively if you don’t understand it. And it’s how you work with it that counts. 

Debias by accepting your fallibility

At an individual level, part of the work is to accept your own fallibility. We are susceptible to many types of bias, that cover all sorts of decisions. Frustratingly, because these biases operate unconsciously, we can’t really know when we are in their grip. And our bias for overconfidence means that we tend to think that our decisions are much better than they are. So, we’re not actually very likely to think we’re biased. It’s bit of a Catch-22.

The most practical approach is to be aware of the tendency towards overconfidence. Be more modest, less certain, about your decisions. Whether or not you know you are biased matters less than accepting that you are likely to be biased.

Leaders who play the ‘merit card’ probably suffer certainty bias, they don’t think they are biased. They don’t like the suggestion they have a ‘weakness’ like ‘bias’. Without that openness, their decisions remain narrow. Feelings of certainty are biases themselves. It’s when we feel most certain that we are most likely to be unsystematic, think we know, circumvent objective methods, or neglect to ask for alternatives.

If you accept that you are likely to be biased you are more likely to act to mitigate against bias. And that, currently, seems to get the best results.

Biases show up in:

  • What we notice
  • What we expect
  • What we ask, and
  • What we value.

What we notice

Collectively, we are getting much better at noticing gender-participation differences by industry and occupation. When we take the time to collect and examine the data about, for example, pay, it transpires that there are often gaps that can only be attributed to gender.  When we notice the difference, we can act on the difference.

At the individual level, what we notice has a big impact on careers.

Letters of recommendation for male academics emphasise research skills, publications and career aspirations, which are the ‘get ahead’ characteristics. Whereas teaching skills, practical clinical skills and personal attributes, the ‘get along’ characteristics, are more often identified for females.

Women scientists’ early career advancement is hindered, even when they have the same qualifications as male scientists. Male and female faculty make biased hiring decisions, preferring male candidates over female. Their capabilities are noticed differently. Male candidates are seen as more competent, more worthy of mentoring and deserving of a higher salary than female candidates.

Notice what you notice

Set yourself a noticing challenge. Pair yourself up with someone of the opposite gender, with whom you will be interacting regularly throughout a designated day. Commit to taking observations during the day. Each half hour, record what you have observed in terms of interpersonal interactions.

At the end of the day, compare your notes with each other.

What do you notice about who takes what kinds of actions, and what is the impact of their actions on others? What’s similar in your observations, and what’s different?

What we expect

We expect men to be ambitious and we don’t expect women to be. This erodes women’s ability to express their ambition. In numerous professions, from policing to medicine and science, women begin with the same levels of ambition as do men. Yet, while men’s ambition increases over time, women’s decreases. Because women are constantly fighting structural barriers, their ambition often wanes.

We expect men to be competent and women supportive. A recent European study reviewed 125 applications for venture capital funding. Forty-seven percent of women’s applications, versus 62% of men’s, were funded. Women applied for and received less funding.

There were four distinct differences in the language used to assess applications:

  • Women were described as needing support, men as assertive.
  • Women were not described as entrepreneurs but as growing a business to escape unemployment. Superlatives were used about men’s fit with entrepreneurship and risk taking.
  • Women’s credibility was questioned, men’s was not.
  • Women were seen to lack competence, experience and knowledge; men to be innovative and impressive.

Expectations about how men and women should behave were carried over into evaluations which then affected their relative success.

Disrupt your expectations

What happens if you disrupt your expectations regarding ambition and competence? What if you spent a day imagining all the women you engage with are ambitious, competent and want to get ahead? Imagine the men with whom you engage want to provide support and take a back seat.

If our Senior Leaders imagined that the men in their teams wanted to leave work to pick up the kids from school and prepare dinner, how would they think about their next career move?

What we ask

The group of researchers involved in the VC funding example above observed the full application process. They concluded that the questions that were asked undermined women’s potential, but underpinned men’s.

A recent US study found a similar kind of bias. In a start-up funding competition, venture capitalists (VCs) were much more likely to ask male entrepreneurs promotion-oriented questions. They focused on ideals, achievements and advancement. By contrast, VCs asked females entrepreneurs prevention-oriented questions. These questions focused on vigilance, responsibility, risk and safety. Male-led start-ups raised five times the funding of females. Consistent with what we know about unconscious bias, the research found that male and female VCs displayed the same questioning biases.  It is often assumed that men favour men and women favour women; increasing the number of women on selection panels is routinely seen as the solution. Yet unconscious biases about gender are held as commonly by women as by men. While simply increasing the number of female decision makers does make balanced decision making more likely, it does not guarantee it. However, when panels have gender balance, or are female only, bias tends to disappear.

Question what you ask

 How might you disrupt the kinds of questions you ask men and women? Do you ask men and women the same questions? What happens when you do?

Imagine our Senior Leaders asked men and women the same questions they ask women. What would they learn?

What we value

Johnson & Johnson, which fields about 1 million job applications for over 25,000 job openings each year, now uses Textio to debias their job ads. When they first started using it they found that their job ads were skewed with masculine language. They were disproportionately valuing male characteristics. Their pilot program to change the language in their ads resulted in a 9% increase in female applicants.

Even when managers and decision-makers espouse a commitment to gender equality and a desire to promote more women into leadership positions, they are prone to evaluate women less positively

By deliberately analysing and structuring how information is conveyed and options are presented, it can become easier to make fairer decisions.

Women are commonly demoted to traditional gender roles. Forty-five percent of women in one study have been asked to make the tea in meetings. Some were CEO at the time. Female doctors are often mistaken for nurses, female lawyers for paralegals and female professionals of many kinds for personal assistants.  We do not expect women to hold senior roles, despite the fact that, increasingly, they do.

Student evaluations of teaching appear to be influenced similarly. Even in an online course where the gender of the instructor was manipulated so that identical experiences were provided to students, those students who believed they had a female teacher provided significantly lower teaching evaluations. While these lower ratings misrepresent actual competency, they nevertheless may create a self-fulfilling prophesy where women’s career advancement choices begin to conform to the stereotype. And erroneous beliefs about women’s competency levels limit the opportunities that are provided to them; the misrepresentations are perpetuated.

Put the value back into evaluation

Debias evaluation by using blind, automated processes. Take human bias and error out, and increase the value of the decisions you are making.

Would our Senior Leaders be prepared to do this? Would they be prepared to take themselves out of the equation? Would they believe an objective merit-based process could occur for a decision in which they have an interest, but in which they were not involved?

Put it all together

People are responsible for their own minds. Our CEO has provided opportunities for his senior leaders to engage with curiosity, respect and candour in their diversity programs. There are some wonderful stories emerging.

The challenge for those who don’t yet get it, is to agree to the overarching purpose that people decisions are based on merit. If merit is what we are aiming for, we should all be prepared to sign-up for practices and tools that increase and uphold it. Will they do this?

But merit is both more and less than it seems. It is more complex and difficult to define than most people think. It is less objective and rigorous, particularly in knowledge work and leadership roles. It is ripe for bias. Paradoxically, invoking merit is perhaps the most powerful way to subvert it.

It’s time for Senior Leaders to throw away the ‘merit card’; their people deserve a fairer hand.

Eroding merit corrodes culture, and culture is where the CEO leaves his biggest legacy. What can he do? To leave a lasting legacy, the CEO knows he needs to call out the fallacy of the ‘merit card’ and hold his Senior Leaders to account for fair people decisions. He can help them to exit the organisation if they are not prepared to play a fair hand.

If the Senior Leaders are prepared to admit to fallibility, to be aware that they may notice and value the behaviours of different groups of people in different ways, there are many practices that will make sure bias is minimised and fairer decisions are made.

We can all keep working to debias our decisions.

What to do if you believe in merit:

  1. Accept your fallibility – be more modest, less certain about your decisions.
  2. Notice what you notice – record what you notice and assess it for fairness.
  3. Disrupt your expectations – imagine women are ambitious and men supportive.
  4. Question what you ask – ask the same questions of everyone.
  5. Put the value back into evaluation – by using blind processes.

Supplier Diversity? I Don’t Have Time For That!

“No one wants to change suppliers…” but embracing Supplier Diversity is getting easier than ever before, and there’s a whole host of reasons it’s good for your business! 

Sunny studio/Shutterstock.com

Supplier diversity programs are a hot topic.

We know we’re supposed to have them…

And we’re told that they’re a great thing both for our organisations and the broader communities in which we work and live.

But what are the actual facts when it comes to embracing a supplier diversity program? Do they really add innovation and value to your business? Is finding a minority owned supplier more trouble than it’s worth?

What is supplier diversity?

Supplier diversity is a business strategy that ensures procurement professionals source their goods and services from a diverse range of suppliers; whether they’re minority or women owned businesses, not-for-profits or social enterprises.

How suppliers gain classification as a diverse business differs across the globe but both a formal process of classification and legislation supporting these businesses is extremely valuable to both buyers and suppliers.

United States

The United States is often regarded as being at the forefront of advancing supplier diversity.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), with a network of 1,750 corporate members, advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members.

Businesses in the US that are least 51 per cent  owned by citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American can be  Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified.  According to the Minority Business Development Agency, there are 8 million minority businesses in the US that account for nearly $1.4 trillion in revenues.

South Africa

The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act passed in 2003 with the fundamental objective  to advance economic transformation and enhance the economic participation of black people in the South African economy.

UK

The UK has been slower to implement clear policy in this area but is an increasing number of organisations working in this space .

MSDUK, for example, is a non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement. We promote the ethos of diversity and inclusion in public and private sector supply chains by identifying and introducing innovative and entrepreneurial ethnic minority owned businesses (EMBs).

CIPS supports the definition of a diverse supplier as one that is “51 per cent owned, controlled or operated by one or more individuals who are members of an ethnic minority group, are disabled, or are women and who are ‘economically disadvantaged’, in that their personal net worth is less than $750,000”

Australia

Supply Nation connects Australia business with Indigenous businesses and is endorsed by the Australian Government as the leading directory of Indigenous businesses for their procurement teams to fulfil their targets under the new Indigenous Procurement Policy.

We interviewed two people who know a thing or two about the benefits;  Rod Robinson, Founder & CEO, ConnXus, Inc. and Lamont Robinson,  Vice President, Supplier Diversity -Nielsen.

Why should our organisations support supplier diversity?

“Supplier diversity has evolved throughout the years since its original inception through Executive Order 11458 in 1969, establishing the Office of the Minority Business Enterprise,” begins Lamont.

“Since that inception, supplier diversity has grown into a business imperative.”

He explains that organisations are establishing these programs to meet needs in six areas:

1. Clients

“Clients are increasingly asking their suppliers to help them with their diversity efforts. It is important to understand the reality that consumers use their purchasing power to support businesses that support companies with owners that look like them.”

2. Competition

“Having a successful supplier diversity program is often a differentiator for retention/recruitment of clients.”

3. Compliance

“Since some clients have federal contracts, they turn to their suppliers to assist with their diversity goals”

4. Communities

“Since diverse businesses typically employ more individuals in underserved communities than their larger counterparts, increased sales for those businesses should lead to more jobs in the community and more paid insurance for those employees.”

“A successful supplier diversity program could positively impact the recruitment and retention of diverse talent.”

5. Customisation innovation

“Diverse suppliers are more innovative and flexible in providing [a] solution.”

“Smaller, more nimble companies typically have greater customer service than their larger counterparts. The customer service is also more personable than with what is provided by large companies.”

6. Costs

“A diverse supplier base creates more competition, which leads to aggressive pricing.”

Rod Robinson argues that “corporate supplier diversity programs yield proven, measurable results in improved innovation, quality and value.

“Overall, it makes good business sense for corporations to do business with diverse suppliers to build a more sustainable supply chain.

“The U.S. Census Bureau reports that minority-owned businesses continue to grow significantly faster than non-minority-owned businesses. From 2007-2012, the number of minority-owned firms increased 29 per cent.”

How can supplier diversity add value to your organisation?

“If a procurement policy requires at least two diverse bidders for every three bidders, those new suppliers will not only have a chance to offer competitive pricing, but they can expose the organisation to new avenues of revenue growth, including access to new markets,” says Rod.

“Furthermore, these suppliers often align with corporate sustainability efforts (energy conservation, reduced paper consumption).”

Lamont believes that “diverse suppliers are typically created by individuals or groups looking to disrupt the marketplace.”

“These individuals seek innovative ways to create a service or product that more effectively meets the needs of clients. Working with smaller, nimble, and more innovative diverse suppliers allows supplier diversity to introduce innovation to the supply chains of their respective organisations.”

Supplier diversity programs are too time consuming

“No one wants to change suppliers,” Lamont admits.

“We all would like to maintain status quo when partnering with the companies that supply us products and services we consistently use and consume.

“However, there are various organisations and tools created to speed up the time needed to source from diverse businesses.

“Best practices are identified when organisations join diversity advocates such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and other similar organisations. Networking with peers from organisations that are members of the aforementioned advocates provides a platform to source for diverse businesses to meet an organisation’s needs.”

Rod agrees with this point of view, arguing that “vetting diverse suppliers requires the same process and time as vetting non-diverse suppliers, but procuring with purpose and intention yields a more sustainable business model, supply chain and economy.”

“Partnering with a technology leader such as ConnXus offers procurement professionals increased visibility and ease-of-use for what might seem to be a difficult or time-consuming task. Choosing the right technology partner can enable procurement professionals to have a unified tool to manage diverse sourcing, supplier diversity, supplier risk, economic impact and more.”

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