Tag Archives: diversity and inclusion

Procurement Across Borders – Looking Into The Cultural Mirror

A useful tool for developing cultural intelligence is the Cultural Mirror, which plots culture across nine dimensions…

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As part of our ongoing article series on Cultural intelligence (CQ) we are discussing each of the four individual components of CQ and how they can be applied to effectively work across cultures. In earlier articles we discussed what Cultural Intelligence is and CQ Drive, which is the motivation that individuals have in approaching and interacting with different cultures. Now we move onto the next component which is CQ Knowledge.

CQ Knowledge refers to your own personal knowledge and understanding of other cultures. Differences and similarities between cultures can be assessed in terms of core values, beliefs, norms and behaviour.

A useful tool for developing CQ Knowledge is the Cultural Mirror, which plots a culture on nine dimensions. These dimensions are based on the work of anthropologist Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars and Asma Abdullah that I amalgamated. The Nine Dimensions of Culture provides us with a continuum of values and by exploring each of these and where a culture sits on the continuum, we are able to gain insight into the culture itself and how it operates. It is critical to firstly appreciate where you sit on the cultural mirror yourself.

Here is the Cultural mirror and the Nine dimensions:

We will look at the first three dimensions in this article and understand what they are, how they are applicable and provide some tips on how to navigate these cultural differences.

Dimension One: Relationships – Task

In some cultures around the world the focus in the early stages of interactions is on building the relationship. In these cultures, getting to know the people and establishing trust is much more important than simply achieving the task. Examples of countries on the relationship end of the continuum are Saudi Arabia and Brazil. In other cultures the initial priority is on getting the task done. This is not to say that the relationship is not important, however the focus is primarily on getting the task done before building the relationship. Examples of countries that are on this end of the continuum would be Australia, Germany and Finland. In both situations, the outcome is to get the task done but the approaches are different.

Tips for those coming from a relationship oriented culture working with a task oriented culture:

  • Be focused and clear on outcomes
  • Give clear instructions about the task

Tips for those coming from a task oriented culture working with a relationship oriented culture:

  • Spend time initially building the relationship
  • Invest in small talk to make people feel more comfortable

Dimension Two: Harmony – Control

This is the view of how humans deal with the environment, nature and with people around us. People from harmony based cultures believe we need to live in harmony with nature and have an external locus of control. They believe in concepts such as yin and yang, fate, destiny and karma. Countries which are more on the harmony end of the continuum include Pakistan and China. Conversely, people from control based cultures believe that you are the master of your own destiny. You are in control of your life and you need to control the environment. Countries more towardes the control  continuum  are the USA and Switzerland.

Tips for those coming from a Harmony based culture working with a Control Culture:

  • Be aware that rigorous debate maybe encouraged
  • Be conscious of delivering on timelines

Tips for those coming from a Control based culture working with a Harmony Culture:

  • Be mindful that open conflict is likely to be avoided
  • Learn how to disagree in a polite manner

Dimension Three: Shame – Guilt

 In shame orientated cultures, avoiding a ‘loss of face’ is important. Thus, what others think of you and how they judge you is a strong motivator. Examples of countries which are more on the shame end of the continuum are India and Japan. Conversely, in guilt based cultures, it is more about up to the individual to judge themselves on their conduct. Guilt based cultures include Italy and Argentina.

Tips for those coming from a shame based culture working with those from a Guilt Culture:

  • Allow time for experimentation and brainstorming of ideas
  • Appreciate that candour may be present and encouraged in discussions

Tips for those coming from a Guilt based culture working with a Shame Culture:

  • Encourage participation through group based tasks to remove attention from individuals which may cause “loss of face”.
  • Do not expect public or rigorous debate

For the three dimensions we have discussed, please consider where your cultural preferences are and how that influences your interactions with others from different cultures?

Procurement Across Borders: Advancing Your Drive To Be A Global Player

Tom Verghese provides a list of tips which can be useful in advancing your CQ Drive…

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In my last article I discussed the three associated factors affecting CQ Drive, which are intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and self-efficacy. Each of these components play an important role in understanding your own drive in terms of Cultural Intelligence and how it can be enhanced.

To refresh here are each of the components of CQ Drive.

  • Intrinsic drive is what motivates some people to have interactions with other cultures.  People with intrinsic drive have a deep, personal interest in different cultures and want to understand or experience the different foods, languages and cultural practices of others.
  • Extrinsic drive describes those people that may want to gain experience interacting across cultures to improve their credentials or gain a promotion in their organisation. People with extrinsic drive are motivated by the way in which having interactions with other cultures can benefit them.
  • Self efficacy refers to having the confidence to handle intercultural situations should they arise, especially when you are not in a position to know the best course of action. Often this entails navigating the cues you are receiving and interpreting them to the best of your ability.

A great example of CQ Drive that I noticed recently was the way in which Jacinda Ardern  has been handling the terrible tragedy that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand. She has exemplified all the elements of high CQ Drive. From my observation, her key drivers have been to understand the perspectives of the communities, particularly the Muslim community and to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people of New Zealand.

She has shown great respect to the Muslim community and their culture by choosing to wear a hijab and spend time empathising with the victims’ families. In parliament she quoted an Islamic greeting to begin the session and has already enacted new laws restricting gun ownership in an effort to ensure that the community at large is safe. In taking these actions she has united the people of New Zealand, overcome a difficult cross-cultural issue and shown great leadership. Jacinda has demonstrated high CQ Drive at the intrinsic, extrinsic and self- efficacy levels through her actions and gained support and respect for her leadership and humanity in doing so. It is very encouraging to see this behaviour in a world leader and provides us with a great example of how we can do better at a personal level in this space.

Here is a short list of tips which can be useful in advancing your own CQ Drive.

  1) Take some unconscious bias tests –Click here

  2) Seek feedback from peers about your interactions across cultures.

  3) Reflect on what guides and influences your behaviours and attitudes toward culturally diverse groups

  4) Welcome opportunities to mentor others as a ‘cultural broker’ and to be mentored yourself.

  5) Seek an interest that you have and leverage on it. Connect with culturally diverse peers who may have an interest in the same topic. You may seek to reach out via social media.

  6) Be prepared to make mistakes and to learn from them.

Being clear about ‘why’ you are choosing to interact with others from different cultural backgrounds helps ease the inevitable tensions or misunderstanding that arise. It provides you with a higher level of self-awareness which is essential in all cross-cultural interactions.

Why Sexual Harassment Training Doesn’t Work (And What We Can Do About It)

There is no evidence that most anti-sexual harassment training actually prevents sexual harassment so how can workplaces stop it?

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About half of all working women report being sexual harassed at work at some point during their working lives.  This is true whether the statistics come from the UK, the US or Europe. Figures like this are underlined by the continuous flow of allegations brought to light as a result of the #metoo movement. 

The question for many workplaces is how to stop it.  For many, the answer is sexual harassment training.  In 2017, for example when two female lawmakers testified about sexual misconduct involving unnamed sitting members of Congress, the House implemented a requirement that all members of staff undergo anti-sexual harassment training.  Even more recently, the US State of California enacted a law to expand employers’ sexual harassment training requirements. Previously, employers with 50 or more employees had to provide their supervisory personnel with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training every two years. The new law dropped the number to any firm having five or more employees and requiring even non-supervisors to receive training.  And it is now common for government agencies, universities and other employers to implement similar policies, with over 90 per cent of US employers having some form of training in place.

Many organisations are now taking a pre-emptive approach to sexual harassment.  When, and not if, the inevitable claim happens they want to be able to point to actions they have taken to prevent it.  The only problem is that no evidence that most anti-sexual harassment training actually prevents sexual harassment or that it makes an employer any less liable for harassment claims by employees.

Comprehensive reviews of typical training programs suggest that under test conditions, men with a propensity to harass may be less likely to inappropriately touch a colleague, but the training does not affect their long term attitudes at all.  According to the researchers there is “absolutely no scientific basis for concluding that harassment training fosters employee tolerance and greatly alters workplace culture.” They also caution that there is a risk that the existence of training sends the erroneous message that the workplace is a harassment-free environment, when it is likely to be nothing of the sort.

The problem lies in the nature of the training according to a recent study conducted by Assistant Professor Elizabeth Tippett from the University of Oregon School of Law.  She analyzed 74 current and historical training programs spanning a period for 1980 to 2016. Her research suggested that harassment training solidified into a genre in the 1980s and 1990s.  It became a box ticking exercise (usually) consisting of a video based on an authority figure summarizing the law and then acting out a set of scenarios focusing largely on contrived situations rather than using real data applicable to the employer delivering the training.  Tippett notes, “a substantial portion of examples trainers use, involving sexual comments, jokes, and emails, represent borderline conduct that may not constitute harassment. Trainers do not always provide an explanation of whether the conduct would qualify as harassment, which may lead participants to infer that such conduct would be strictly prohibited.”  

The result is training which is either ignored because it portrays behavior which isn’t harassment or, results in workplaces which become hypersensitive to the point that productivity is impaired because people are scared of interacting with women at all.

Researchers have suggested a number of ways of improving the effectiveness of anti-harassment training borrowed from research into school-based anti-bullying programs.  One of the most effective of those programs is the one designed by 87-year-old Swedish professor of psychology, Dan Olweus, one of the clear leaders in bullying research. His program is designed to curtail any behavior that results from the power imbalance rather than focusing on any given expression of it. In short his program says set rules, stick to them, monitor compliance vigilantly and punish any violation consistently. Importantly, the entire community must cooperate in reducing the behaviour. A common feature of effective anti-bullying programs is ensuring that the community reacts against bullying. If the bully thinks bullying will make them an outcast, they’ll be much less likely to bully. If the bully’s peers react by reporting the behaviour or intervening on behalf of the victim, the bullying will decrease.

Like other bullies, harassers thrive in environments where supervision is minimal and rules are loosely enforced or non-existent. And just as with bullies, cooperation and community values are the most powerful weapons of containment. None of this will stop a harasser from wanting to harass, but it will severely curtail their opportunities to do so, and likely make it a career ending choice.

All of this depends on top-down buy in from the leaders of an organization.  They have to walk the walk, set the tone and make sure it is enforced without fear or favour. They need to do much more than tick the box and press play on the 1980’s sexual harassment training video.

All too often, group think and anxiety about imaginary consequences shuts down complaints before they are even made. If we want to stop abusive behavior in in the workplace, then we need to ensure our HR departments and all our other whistleblowers are protected and emboldened. When abuse is occurring we need to protect those who speak out, not shame them into staying with the herd.

Procurement Across Borders: Do You Have The Drive?

Do you have the drive, interest, motivation and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation?


By El Nariz/ Shutterstock

In the last article in this series we discussed what cultural intelligence (CQ) is and how it is an important tool in working effectively across distance, culture and time. I described the four main components of CQ, which are CQ Drive, CQ Knowledge, CQ strategy and CQ Action. In this article I will be focusing on CQ Drive.

CQ Drive is the interest, motivation and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation. There are three main areas of CQ Drive, these being:  

  • Intrinsic drive which is what motivates some people to have interactions with other cultures.  People with intrinsic drive have a deep, personal interest in different cultures and want to understand or experience the different foods, languages and cultural practices of others
  • Extrinsic drive describes those people that may want to gain experience interacting across cultures to improve their credentials, gain experience or gain a promotion in their organisation. People with extrinsic drive are more motivated by the ways in which having interactions with other cultures can benefit them
  • Self efficacy refers to having the confidence to deal with intercultural situations should they arise, especially when you are not in a position to know the best course of action. Often this entails navigating the cues you are receiving and interpreting them to the best of your ability

To further exemplify CQ drive in action I would like to share a story about a client. I was engaged recently to work with a scientist who is on a one year assignment in Australia from Germany. He works for a Biopharmaceutical organisation that has operations in both Australia and Germany. Apart from the technical side of his role, his brief is also to help bridge the different operational styles in the laboratory between the two countries.

 In terms of his intrinsic motivation, he really wants his assignment to be a successful one, has an interest in being of service and helping the organisation to grow through gaining experience in Australia and understanding how the business can operate optimally in a different context.

His extrinsic motivation is through knowing that having this experience will help him further his career and gain recognition and promotion in the future. This international exposure will be an essential component of his ambition to become a global leader.

He has also shown a high degree of self efficacy. Upon arriving in Australia, the organisation provided him with an apartment in a high rise development located in downtown Melbourne. He found over the first few weeks that he was quite lonely and had few people to talk to. Having had previous experience travelling through Europe, he decided to register himself at a Youth Hostel to enable him to meet other travellers and increase his friendship circle.

So, this is an example of someone with high CQ drive in all aspects. I encourage you to reflect on your own levels of CQ Drive in terms of intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and self-efficacy. In my article next month, I will share some tips and techniques on how you can improve your CQ Drive and the kind of outcomes this can bring.

Women In Procurement? You Better Believe It

At Procurious we want women in procurement across the globe, and from every walk of life, to be the best that they can be and reach the highest of career heights. But to dream big it’s important to have some leading lights showing you the way…

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It’s hard to dream big and aim high without a little leading light to show you the way. Sadly, at procurement conferences women make up just 20 per cent of presenters, they represent 20-35 per cent of procurement association memberships and earn up to 31 per cent less than their male counterparts.  

And so, on this International Women’s Day, we want to show the procurement world all of the amazing things women are doing and achieving for the profession, to inspire you to do it too! 

For the past week, we’ve been running a visibility campaign – encouraging women working in procurement across the globe to share photos of themselves in order to inspire the next generation of talented women.

Check out some of the amazing contributions below and get involved here.

Bill Gorman, Portfolio Lead – Procurement and Supply Chain – Accenture and her team in Brisbane

Why is visibility important?

Visibility for women in procurement is important as we are still fighting an undertone that strong leadership can only come from men, which is absolutely not true.

There is a cultural bias that is engrained in our society’s fabric that women themselves often subscribe to – visibility for women in procurement is not external, it’s internal. The journey for true equality starts when we acknowledge ourselves.

Abby Vige, Procurement Manager – Ministry of Education of New Zealand

We might be very confident in life, but it is always easier when we see examples proving that things are achievable. Hence the importance of sharing success stories of women in Procurement to motivate women to embrace a career in this exciting, dynamic and rewarding profession.  As an African European woman working in Western Europe, for me it is even more important that black women can be inspired and encouraged to join the profession. environment. #Representation matters!

Joelle Payom,  Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

Increasing the number of women in key roles increases the availability of role models. It increases identification with leadership roles and helps grow future supply. A diversity of role models expands the leadership profile, and boosts innovation.


Achieving a critical mass of 35 per cent or more women enables:


– Supportive alliances to form between women, increasing their retention
– Recognition of women for their individual talents, rather than for stereotypical attributes 
– Improved dynamics and culture of the larger leadership cohort

Karen Morley, Director -Karen Morley & Associates
Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

Joelle Payom,  Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead

What motivates you to be a role model?

I like to share experiences, tools and tactics that help navigate the human experience. There is a lot of emphasis on technical skills and workplace experience but there is little insight from leadership about how they got to the place they are in now, often it’s soft skills and learnings around resilience and adaptability that lands our leaders in these roles. I like to remain open to anyone starting out in their career, pulling back the curtain and being honest about work life balance, coping mechanisms for pressure, priorisation skills and having tough conversations

Abby Vige, Procurement Manager – Ministry of Education of New Zealand
Coretta Bessi, Head of Procurement – Ausgrid

How can organisations help female employees careers’ progress more rapidly?

Starting by promoting more women at Top Management level. That’s the most powerful sign that an organization is not only embracing diversity but also fostering effective inclusion. If it happens at Top Level, it is easier to cascade down. #Lead by example!

Joelle Payom,  Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead
Carina Hoogeveen, Senior Director, Marketing EMEA – Icertis

Cathryn Vann, Head of Procurement – Accsys Group

Sally Lansburt, Rhylee Nowell and Pip McGregor – The Faculty

Helen Macken, Director
– Vladcat Enterprises Limited

Claire Costello Senior Director, GBS Indirect Procurement Solutions- Sourcing – Walmart and Kirsty Middlemiss Senior Manager, Procurement, Asda

Get involved with International Women’s Day 2019 

On this International Women’s Day, we’re campaigning to improve the visibility of women in procurement and supply chain management. We want to showcase some of the amazing things women are achieving for the professions and inspire you to do it too! 


1.Sign up to join the Bravo group on Procurious
2. Download your very own you can’t be what you can’t see poster from the documents tab in the group
3. Print out the poster and snap a shot of yourself 
4. Share the photo via the Bravo group on Procurious 
5. Share the photo on Twitter, tagging @Procurious_ and #IWD2019 #BravoWomen and LinkedIn. In your post, nominate a woman in procurement who inspires you and ask her to take part too! 

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

How To Be Visible, Feel Authentic And Advance Your Career

You can’t be what you can’t see has become a catch cry for the lack of visibility of women in leadership roles.

It’s a bit of a Catch-22. To be prepared to be visible, to feel authentic and to advance your career is so much easier when you can follow women who’ve already blazed the trail. It’s so much easier to follow a path that someone has created than to forge your own. And what a hard slog if everyone is doing that!

To make your own path easier, find role models that you can emulate, help others find role models that they can follow, and this will increase your opportunity to be visible.

You can’t be what you can’t see

You can’t be what you can’t see has become a catch cry for the lack of visibility of women in leadership roles.

When there are no female role models, women’s belief in their suitability for leadership reduces. ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ The unavailability of female role models constrains the choices women make about their careers.

This has a significant impact on available talent. Girls are discouraged from pursuing careers that seem ‘male’.  Women do not choose to pursue career opportunities in male-dominated areas. 

This also limits organisations’ talent pools and pipelines. It compromises long-term future talent supplies across industries. It is strikingly evident in male-dominated professions, like engineering.

For International Women’s Day 2019, Procurious are running a new campaign to improve the visibility of inspiring women working in procurement and supply chain. Get involved here.

Why role models are so critical

Implicit self-beliefs are not simply private thoughts that remain confined to the mind. Rather, they impact intentions and goals. They encourage, or hinder, future professional success.

At entry to tertiary studies, and again at exit, young women agree that women-as-a-group are as suited to leadership roles as men. They express their own personal ambition to be leaders.

However, their unconscious beliefs about women as leaders, and their own leadership potential, do change. Without the right kind of interactions with role models, young women’s implicit self-beliefs diminish.

When all or most of their professors are male, their unconscious self-beliefs erode. They come to believe that women are better suited for support roles.

When women directly engage with successful female professors their unconscious self-beliefs improve. Frequent contact helps the association ‘woman = leader’ strengthen. However, only when contact is evaluated as meaningful do self-beliefs change: ‘I can be a leader’.  A sense of similarity with role models is created by a meaningful, quality connection. Women’s leadership ambitions increase significantly when they engage with such role models.

This same pattern continues as women engage in the workforce. Women are less likely to pursue leadership roles or roles in masculine domains.

Young women are unaware of their implicit beliefs

They believe that the way they see themselves and their career choices are down to their own motivation, talent and interests. Instead, context powerfully drives their choices.

A senior leader described her daughter’s reduced ambition as like the erosion caused by acid rain. She started her career as a confident, ambitious young woman. She was clear about who she was and what she wanted. Over time, she had given up career goals and her dreams of success. A drop at a time, and devastating over time, her interest in her career was being eroded. She was shaping herself in line with expectations about what women should be like at work. Not confident. Not ambitious.

The ingredients that best predict improvement in implicit leadership self-beliefs are:

  • Knowing that other women have achieved success in leadership or male-dominated domains, together with
  • The experience of personally connecting with those women.

Who are your role models? Fabulous, successful female leaders that you would aspire to be like. If you don’t have three or four that you see personally, or feel strongly connected to, get to work and find them!

Leverage the role model effect

Increasing the number of women in key roles increases the availability of role models. It increases identification with leadership roles and helps grow future supply. A diversity of role models expands the leadership profile, and boosts innovation.

Achieving a critical mass of 35% or more women enables:

  • Supportive alliances to form between women, increasing their retention;
  • Recognition of women for their individual talents, rather than for stereotypical attributes; and
  • Improved dynamics and culture of the larger leadership cohort.

The mere presence of women in small or ‘token’ numbers is not enough. It has been assumed that an initial appointment of one woman would lead to a flow of female appointments.  Instead, hiring more women often stalls. A 20 year study of US Fortune 1000 companies found that hiring one top female executive did not lead to a second.

To achieve a critical mass of women in leadership, hiring patterns need to shift. A powerful way for that to happen is by male leaders advocating for gender-balanced leadership.

If you are in the hiring game, make sure that you are removing all the bias you can from your process, including at the initial stage – make sure your work climate is inclusive and welcoming.

Harness the power of male advocacy

CEO advocacy is the primary driver of a rapid achievement of critical mass. Advocating pro-diversity views promotes acceptance of diversity and helps to realise its benefits. Advocacy by influential figures is persuasive. It can change unconscious attitudes. As CEOs and senior leaders are mostly men, their role as advocates is key.

The best ways that men can champion gender equality are by:

  • Being credible, trustworthy supporters of gender-balanced leadership,
  • Delivering clear messages about gender balance and their commitment to it,
  • Using persuasive power to change the minds of peers, and
  • Working collegiately with women.

The way in which senior men include women, model openness to difference and challenge exclusionary behaviour by others creates a new example and new model for behaviour. Who are the senior men that you can encourage to be more visible in their advocacy?

Because it is still uncommon to hear men advocate in this way, when they do, it stimulates a mental double take. It challenges unconscious thinking.

Engaging senior men as advocates is also a positive way to tap into their desire to look good to others. The male champions of change program does this very effectively.

How many male advocates do you have in your network? What might you do to nurture one more? Maybe you are a male advocate for inclusion and innovation? What can you do to persuade those around you to join you as an advocate?

Reset visibility

Align yourself with this year’s IWD theme of #balanceforbetter. Time for a reset in our thinking. Let’s work on both women’s visibility as leaders, and on men’s visibility as champions for balanced leadership. You can’t be what you can’t see will be an even more powerful catch cry when used to encourage men to add their voices as advocates. Make advocacy visible!

Be visible, feel authentic and advance your career

Set your sights on making it to a senior level role, or help those around you to do so. Increase your confidence in your own leadership identity, by identifying specific role models. Role models help increase feelings of self-efficacy in leadership, the development of your identity as a leader, and increase your positive feelings about being a leader.

Creating a strong, confident story-line that is congruent with your own values, and having a presence that holds attention, are critical to succeeding in leadership roles, and work on these will help you to advance your career.

Get involved with International Women’s Day 2019

At Procurious we want women in procurement and supply chain management across the globe, and from every walk of life, to be the best that they can be and reach the highest of career heights.

But it’s hard to dream big and aim high without a little leading light to show you the way.

Cathryn Vann, Head of Procurement – Accsys Group with Procurious’ Holly Nicholson

That’s why, on this International Women’s Day, we’re campaigning to improve the visibility of women in procurement and supply chain management. We want to showcase some of the amazing things women are achieving for the professions and inspire you to do it too! 

1.Sign up to join the Bravo group on Procurious
2. Download your very own you can’t be what you can’t see poster from the documents tab in the group
3. Print out the poster and snap a shot of yourself 
4. Share the photo via the Bravo group on Procurious 
5. Share the photo on Twitter, tagging @Procurious_ and #IWD2019 #BravoWomen and LinkedIn. In your post, nominate a woman in procurement who inspires you and ask her to take part too! 

Thanks Gillette. Why Men Should Aim To Be The Best They Can Be

The recent Gillette ad caused a massive response for a 1:47 minute film. Is it the close shave we had to have, or one that’s just too close for comfort?

The ad actively highlights the importance of rejecting toxic behaviour, showing men intervening when others are harassed or bullied, and helping to protect children from the same behaviour. Promoting civility, care and protection can’t be bad. Can it?

Alignment with the #metoo movement may be enough to raise the red flag to some. But even, so, just why is the ad’s message so controversial? Gillette’s strapline change from ‘the best a man can get’ to ‘the best a man can be’ seems nothing short of genius. Why is it not universally inspiring?

Unfortunately, diversity initiatives are now well known to backfire and cause backlash. Any attempt to change people’s attitudes and beliefs will almost certainly do this. The history of Civil Rights in the US is an unfortunately good example.

Whether this initiative does or doesn’t result in unintended negative consequences for Gillette, there are lessons that can be learned from the response. At the heart of the contention is the portrayal of the toxicity of hyper-masculine cultures.  

The key characteristics of a toxic masculine culture are:

  • Show no weakness – don’t admit you don’t know, don’t express doubt;
  • Show strength and stamina – stronger, longer, and bigger are better;
  • Put work first – work hard, don’t let family interfere;
  • ‘Dog eat dog’ – watch your back, you’re in or out.

These characteristics are traditionally associated with men’s work, and with leadership. They are prevalent in many industries and occupations, not just dangerous or physical strength-related ones, such as the military or emergency services. They also characterise engineering, construction, and white collar industries like finance, procurement and law. Many mainstream organisations conflate the demonstration of masculine traits with effective performance.

It’s not the characteristics themselves that are the problem. And it isn’t men either.

The problem with these characteristics is when they are the majority characteristics of an organisation’s culture.

An interesting feature of masculinity is that it isn’t ever settled, it always needs to be contested. The problem is not in the behaviour of individual men, but in workplace cultures that reward survival-of-the-fittest and dog-eat-dog competitiveness.

The expectations are neither inevitable nor are they universal. The nature of teams, the structure of work and the core tasks associated with specific occupations all moderate how cultures form and are experienced in male-dominated occupations. For example, where firefighting crews were encouraged to express camaraderie and work with good humour, they were much less likely to engage in high risk behaviour. They were faster to coordinate, had fewer accidents, and caused less property damage.

In one study of leadership climate, 56 per cent of people considered that the managers they interact with every day displayed toxic leadership to some degree. Masculine contest cultures are less inclusive, and there is a lower level of psychological safety. Higher employee stress, work-life conflict and turnover intentions result. Organisational commitment is low, as is wellbeing. The more toxic the culture, the worse performance becomes over time.

When men who strongly identify with masculine characteristics experience threats to their superiority, they also tend to reduce support for gender equality. If they see programs for gender equality (such as this ad) as a zero-sum game, ie, any gains to be made by women will be losses to them, they withdraw their interest, don’t get involved, or oppose the programs.

Moves towards equal pay, for example, are seen as reducing opportunities for men and placing downward pressure on men’s pay. In a contest culture where men are competing against other men, women’s access into the competition is seen as disrupting the advantage that men have.  Attempts to increase the representation of women will be difficult.

It is when men who identify strongly with masculine characteristics perceive threats to their masculinity that they are more likely to sexually harass others. And they may harass either female or male colleagues.

Where men believe that gender roles are fixed, they tend to rationalise the social system. They are more likely to justify the system and its inequities. On the other hand, where men are primed to see gender roles as socially ascribed, their identification with ‘male’ decreases as does their defence of gender inequities. Their views align more with women’s.

A real part of the problem for change is that working in a masculine culture is associated with greater work engagement and job meaning for some men. Some men find the prospect of winning masculine status so seductive that they will sacrifice their wellbeing for opportunities to be in the contest.

Finally, a major challenge is that those organisations that need training the most are the least likely to benefit from it. Organisations that promote masculinity context cultures won’t change through traditional diversity and sexual harassment training. In such cultures, conventional approaches have not been effective and in some cases have backfired.

Diversity and sexual harassment training is only effective in those organisations that support its purpose and content. When there is misalignment, when training is done to meet external reporting or is tokenistic, training is at best a waste of time.

These issues highlight some of the reasons behind the strong, negative reactions to the Gillette ad.

If you are someone who sees the Gillette ad as a breath of fresh air, and you want to reduce the degree of masculine contest in your culture, keep these three key things in focus:

  • Let people control their own solutions to inequities, by engaging them in the problem, make sure they are volunteers, and use curiosity as a key hook. This makes it rewarding
  • Increase contact and connection between under-represented groups, and ensure they work together as this minimises status differences and focuses on work and learning;
  • Make responsibilities transparent, and make people accountable for their actions, which taps into their desire to look good to others

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!)