Tag Archives: diversity

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! 

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.”

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.

Step 1: Brush Your Teeth Step 2: Change the World

“Molly, the reason you got less than Thomas, is because you are a girl.” We take a look at some of the highlights of this year’s International Women’s Day…

The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have triggered an intensely powerful outpouring of testimony and solidarity among people around the world.

But this is only the beginning of the story.

The broader issues of systemic workplace sexism and the fight for meaningful inclusion undeniably stretch far beyond the entertainment world.

We need look no further than our own procurement backyard where women account for just 20-35 per cent of procurement association memberships, represent just 30 per cent of attendees and 20 per cent of speakers, and earn up to 31 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Time is most definitely up for our own profession to tackle this issue and celebrate more fully the dynamite contributions made by talented women to their businesses and to the profession.

And judging from the overwhelming response to our A Wise Woman Once Told Me campaign, you think so too!

A Wise Woman Once Told Me…

For International Women’s Day (IWD), we decided to pay homage to the wisest women we know with a new campaign entitled “A Wise Woman Once Told Me…”

Last year, we launched Bravo, a Procurious group, to both celebrate and promote women in procurement and campaign against the profession’s current gender disparity.

For IWD we asked procurement professionals across the globe to join Bravo and share the best advice a woman has ever given them.

Here are some of our favourite responses and action shots from the day…

Our youngest supporter and proud feminist shares the best advice he has ever received from a woman in his life… And what great advice it is too!
Procurious’ Melbourne contingent ready for an International Women’s Day celebration
Procurious founder Tania Seary shares the best advice she’s received from a woman…
A Procurious member shares their advice
Delegates at SAP Ariba live in Las Vegas created an amazing “A Wise Woman Once Told Me…” wall

Literary heroines from across the globe were very well represented…

Poignant advice from diarist Anne Frank
Advice from Hogwarts’ wisest witch
Matilda also had some wise words to share with the procurement community…

International Women’s Day 2018  – By the Numbers

Events, campaigns, protests and celebrations across the globe marked 2018’s International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme was #PressForProgress, a call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity.

With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress.  – International Women’s Day

Some key events from this year’s International Women’s Day…

Pay Disparity is Child’s Play

“Molly, the reason you got less than Thomas, is because you are a girl.”

Stark pay gaps between men and women prevail across the world, which is why one Norwegian financial trade union, Finansforbundet, launched one of our favourite campaigns for this year’s International Women’s Day.

In the video, a group of children are asked to fill two vases with blue and pink balls.

Once they’ve completed the task they are rewarded with jars of sweets.

But the boys get more.

As you might predict, the confused children are quick to condemn the explanation they are given that boys get more simply because they are boys.

Unequal pay is unacceptable in the eyes of children.

Why should we accept it as adults?

Bravo – Join the campaign

There’s still time to join Bravo on Procurious and take part in our Wise Woman campaign.

Sign up here to join. 

We promise to donate £1 to Action Aid – a charity committed to ending the inequality that keeps women and girls locked in poverty – for every person that joins Bravo before 12th March 2018 – that’s the end of the day today! 

In other procurement news this week…

KFC: Back to Bidvest

  • It hasn’t been a (finger-licking) good month for KFC WHO experienced widespread distribution problems after it decided to switch its logistics contract from Bidvest to DHL, resulting in the closure hundreds of outlets and disappointment of thousands of fried-chicken fans
  • Last week, it was reported that KFC would be returning, in part, to its ex-distributor Bidvest, who will supply up to 350 of its 900 restaurants
  • Bidvest has pledged “a seamless return” and a KFC spokesperson said “our focus remains on ensuring our customers can enjoy our chicken without further disruption.” Let’s hope they don’t cluck it up this time!

Read more on BBC News 

Lego goes green

  • Lego has started using polymer from plants in some of its toys as part of a move away from oil-based plastics.
  • The Danish firm’s first bioplastic offering is made from sugarcane and will be used in “botanical” elements including leaves, bushes and trees
  • The bioplastics are set to appear in stores later this year as Lego moves towards sustainable raw materials in all its products by 2030
  • Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at Lego said: “We are proud that the first Lego elements made from sustainably sourced plastic are in production and will be in Lego boxes later this year. This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all Lego bricks using sustainable materials.”

Read more on Supply Management 

Looking Through The ‘Glass ceiling’ – 30 Years On

Have women smashed through the glass ceiling in the last thirty years? 

Seeing the many posts regarding International Women’s Day made me think – what is all this fuss about?

We’ve got this sorted, haven’t we?

But then I think back to where my procurement journey began and realise only 30 years ago the world of procurement that I inhabited was vastly different to the one we work in now.

I realise that I was complicit because I just kind of accepted it as ‘the man’s world’ that I had dared to enter.

February 1987

I started out in February 1987. I remember my first boss in civil engineering saying

“Mandy, you are very good at what you do, but you have two problems, one is that you are young and two is that you are female.”

He went on to tell me that I’d have to work really hard to prove myself in the ‘buying game’.

He had a point.

I remember the crane driver who refused to take a request from me because “he wouldn’t take orders from a woman” (yes, really!). I recall how I was referred to as the ‘lady buyer’ and on a good day was perceived as a ‘bit of a novelty’. I just brushed it off and got on with it, never realising how accepting this would have ramifications for other females in my position or that I would be calling it out in an article years later for the blatant sexual discrimination that it was.

Ten Years Later…

In 1997, ten years later, I remember an appraisal with my then boss at a manufacturing organisation. During the meeting, he spoke about the ‘glass ceiling’ and how I should manage my career aspirations accordingly.

I didn’t even know what the glass ceiling was at that time but I got the gist of what he was saying.

Fifteen Years Later


Fast forward another five years, to 2002, and I’m the only member in a group of all male managers who doesn’t have a company car as part of their employee package.

I grumbled and moaned, but it was only when I pointed out that I was

  1. The only member who didn’t have a company car in that group

and

  1. That I hoped this wasn’t because I was the only female…

…that the car miraculously materialised!

Twenty-Five Years Later

Ten years later as Regional Procurement Director at TATA Steel (as you can imagine, pretty much a male dominated environment) the words of my first boss echoed in my ears.

I HAD to prove myself. This meant turning up at meetings when my son was sick at home, early starts and late finishes balancing motherhood and a career, whilst trying to build productive relationships with colleagues in the business.

“Finding success” were the words of my Engineering Director colleague when he pointed out that relationships between Procurement and Engineering had never been better.

The Buying Game

While I hope this article shows how far women have come in the “buying game” and how behaviours and attitudes have changed, and that I now personally feel total peer equality with my male counterparts, I would hate for any other women in procurement to feel gender inequality and just brush it off as expected.

I don’t regret my decisions, I did what I thought was right at the time but in this modern age of procurement, it isn’t acceptable – so don’t stand for it.

There is still so much more we can do, for all women in procurement. I would rather be seen as a success and a woman rather than a success because I am a woman.

Even in 2018 this is a rarity, in manufacturing especially. To International Women’s Day and all women in procurement

Here’s to strong women.

May we know them.

May we be them.

May we raise them.

4 Ways Diversity Makes A Rock-Solid IMPACT

Cultural diversity – whether it’s racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual – is an increasingly hot topic that shows no signs of slowing down. Let’s examine why diversity in the workplace has gone from a “nice-to-have” to a critical business imperative.

  1. Diversity leads to a higher market share

While communities are becoming increasingly culturally diverse, businesses need to mimic the communities they serve by bringing together individuals from different backgrounds and experiences. Put simply, people want to engage with companies that employ people similar to them. This enables companies to capture a greater share of the market by marketing more genuinely to diverse communities, communicating effectively with their diverse customers, and understanding their needs.

Looking for proof of the above? Research from McKinsey revealed that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 per cent more likely to have above-average financial returns, while companies in the bottom quartile were less likely to achieve above-average results.

  1. Diversity supercharges problem-solving

Institute for Supply Management CEO Tom Derry told Procurious that cultural inclusiveness is no longer an idea, but an expectation. “Your team needs to be diverse – in fact, you’ll look impoverished if you don’t have that. The benefits include being able to tap into a diversity of experience and opinion to solve challenges. This creates a truly attractive environment for top talent.”

If you lived in a dystopic Brave New World scenario where every member of your workforce had identical cultural backgrounds, education and work experience, it’s highly likely that each individual would come up with an identical set of solutions when presented with a problem. That’s why it’s imperative that any group includes people with culturally diverse backgrounds and highly varied work experience who can bring entirely different schools of thought to the table, and hence a wide variety of innovative solutions.

  1. Diversity in the workplace helps you become a more effective global professional

Supply management professionals are increasingly working within the global supply chain, which is why being about to communicate effectively in different parts of the world is a must-have skillset. Having high cultural intelligence (CQ) means knowing how to create relationships, understand cultural nuances and adapt your approach to suit cultural differences in foreign countries.

Shelley Stewart, CPO and VP, DuPont, told Procurious that “A diverse workplace provides a wealth of varied experiences that are crucial for supply management organisations to operate even more effectively in the global economy.”

How? Because an inclusive and diverse business will increase the empathy (and CQ) of all employees as cultural tunnel-vision is reduced. In short, everyone benefits from a higher appreciation of different outlooks and an increased understanding of others. Armed with these skills, a supply management professional is much less likely to suffer culture shock or put a foot wrong when interacting internationally.

  1. Diversity will help you attract and retain the best talent

If your company has built a solid reputation as an organisation with a truly diverse and vibrant workforce, it will attract the very best and brightest in the market. Companies that fail to recognise this are missing out on top talent, as potential candidates may have the perception that your company simply doesn’t tend to hire people from their cultural background. To state the obvious, companies should be making every effort to widen, rather than shrink, the talent pool.

There’s evidence that businesses which fail to foster inclusive, diverse workforces suffer from higher turnover rates, as a hostile work environment forces employees to leave. High turnover leads to avoidable costs, which is another reason why cultural diversity positively impacts your organisation’s bottom line.

More resources on Diversity from ISM:

Workplace Inclusion: Cut the Fluff!

3 Practical Ways to Move the Needle on Inclusion in the Workplace..

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat!

Business Leaders are tired of hearing about the “D” word. Tired of hearing about diversity initiatives, forums, unconscious bias training, statistics. We get it; leaders are probably tired because all of the hype is on the problem.

As D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) Practitioners we are tired also of the “fluffy” responses to inclusion that are labelled as solutions. We’ve all participated in some of the fluff: Cultural Diversity Week, Harmony Day, International Women’s Day, Gay Pride Marches, coin collections for paralympians!

The reality is that by and large Australian businesses already have diverse workforces. Walk into most workplaces, and you will see some form of workforce diversity: age, gender, physical ability, sexuality, culture, thought. Although these staff members are “celebrated” with seasonal activities like Harmony Day, we are just not including these diversities where and when it counts in business.

Why?

  • Australian leaders who hold the power are not from diverse groups
  • There is no real business motivation to drive inclusion
  • There is a lack of know-how on launching and driving sustainable change to move the needle on inclusion.

AUSTRALIAN LEADERS & DIVERSE TEAM MEMBERS: “Feeling like an onlooker at work”

Inclusion can’t happen if we continue to have a distance in structure and relatability between Australian leaders and diverse team members. Figure 1 shows the distance in structure – Australian businesses are still run by Anglo-Celtic men who may have little relatability to people from diverse backgrounds.

Figure 1: Australia’s Anglo Celtic Men still hold the power

How do people from diverse backgrounds feel? It is ‘feeling like an onlooker at work, or more like an invisible spectator than part of a team’. This is the experience of ‘otherness’, or exclusion in the workplace, that might be subtle but is pervasive (Research by Catalyst).

My experiences … have made me far more aware of my “Blackness” than ever before. I have found that … no matter how liberal and open-minded some [people] try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor … as if I really don’t belong. – Michelle Obama

The impact of exclusion can affect everything from morale to career advancement. Diverse individuals report being more likely to withdraw from full participation and contribution (engagement) to the business. At a business level, this typically means lowered productivity or at the very least, less discretionary effort. The problem is Anglo-Celtic male leaders may not even be aware that this is happening.

 

How do we get the attention of Anglo-Celtic male business leaders?

Unfortunately, we will get their attention mostly with business statistics that link to financials. So here are some compelling statistics:

Gender diverse and ethnically diverse companies return 15% and 35% better financial performance than their competitors. 

Sounds like a no brainer to get motivated to do something, right? However, Australia has got to have the diversity represented first and in the right senior roles. At present, every diversity category you pick is under-represented and our lagging shows on a world-stage, especially with women: Australia is only at 14th place worldwide for women on large, publicly listed companies; and 17th place for women in parliament. Once we improve this, then we can talk about leveraging inclusion to get Fig. 2’s financial success stories.

Figure 2: Diversity Matters 

3 steps to cut the fluff and make inclusion matter

Do we wait to get representation first and then work at inclusion? No, start now – here is how: If you are at the top, the middle or indeed in any leadership role, here are three steps to cut the fluff on inclusion:

  1. Understand the diversities you are dealing with (MBWA)

Listening to the unique experiences of diverse employees (MBWA: management by walking around) and adopting inclusive behaviours will reap immediate benefits for your employees and your business. Do not fall into the trap of forming a view about the current state by using data based on outdated personal experience, assumptions and anecdotes or by talking a merit approach.

  1. Translate the potential business impact of continuing exclusion

For example, if you continue to have low levels of women or CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) women represented across your organisation, what does that mean for your reach with customers (51% of Australia’s population are women and we are one of the most multicultural nations in the world). Do you know how your engagement scores translate across diverse groups? Are your staff feeling like onlookers and are these hidden within a 70+ average engagement score?

  1. Commit to act with transparency and accountability

At a senior level, engage the right stakeholder to develop policy, set targets and then make the right leaders accountable for communicating and embedding the policy and the targets into the organisational operating rhythm. All other levels: start with simple acts of inclusion: don’t talk over someone, learn to pronounce someone’s name, encourage an opinion and be open to listening fully – basically invite an onlooker in and keep the door open.

So, cut the fluffy celebrations, events and festivals – instead, take some concrete steps to make inclusion happen on an organisational and individual level, in ways that allow people to be valued and encourage others to step up.

This article was written by Div Pillay & Michelle Redfern, Co-founders of Culturally Diverse Women.

Join us LIVE at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

Can I Really Be Me And Succeed At Work?

Scores of women struggle to be their most authentic selves at work without the fear of negatively impacting their careers. How can you be your fabulous self in the workplace and still succeed! 

 

Join the women in procurement conversation in the Procurious Bravo group. 

I moderate forums quite regularly for women that focus on the themes of vulnerability, building business acumen and authentic leadership. There is a consistent theme in the conversations I have before, during and after these forums. Frustration and exasperation that women are not advancing quickly enough into leadership.

The structural, system level reasons are well documented, however women tell me:

  1. I want to advance, but encounter barriers and exclusion due to implicit bias
  2. I am perceived to lack the confidence that men typically do in the workplace
  3. I want to show up authentically, confidently and courageously, but do not believe I will be rewarded for ‘being me’

Why do women feel like they cannot be authentic?

One answer is the issue of likeability. There is a catalogue of articles about the ‘Heidi/Howard’ story cited by Sheryl Sandberg in her seminal work, Lean In. Heidi who is an authentic female entrepreneur and go-getter, successful, wealthy, powerful and respected. Her success story, profile and achievements are reviewed by a group of students from NYU. Then her name is changed to Howard and the same group of students review her/his accomplishments.  The students rate Heidi/Howard the same for competence, however Howard was rated as more likeable and someone that the students would prefer to work with.

Heidi is ‘selfish and not the type of person you would want to hire or work for.’

It feels true, doesn’t it? It also feels awful and contributes to the exasperation and frustration that women feel. However, there is hope. Andersen Cooper from CNN recently reran the experiment with a group of students. This time around, students rated the female entrepreneur as more likeable and desirable as a boss than the male. Hooray! But why?

  1. Because in the 10 years since the original study, we have seen more women ascend to positions of power
  2. Women’s participation rates in the workforce are at their highest rate ever

However, the societal expectations of how ‘nice girls’ behave and as a result, the challenge of being an authentic leader, female or male, are not shifting quickly enough.

To put a completely gendered lens to this issue; I asked women;

  1. Can I really be me and still advance at work?
  2. Is my authentic feminine leadership style valued the same way as traditional male leadership styles?

Disappointingly, many women say no to both questions. Women are waiting for the right environment to advance to be truly authentic feminine leaders. I say wait no longer!

We expect a lot from women

We want them to lead, manage, coordinate and juggle life, leadership and career. Often this results in women prioritising their career last in a long to do list.  I want women to invest time and effort in themselves, their development and their fulfilment because I know, from my own experience, that understanding myself, my skills and how to use them effectively has positioned and propelled me into doing what I love and what the world needs. More women in leadership!

Get the career advice you need

In her Ted Talk watched over 3 million times, Susan Colantuono says get the career advice you need, not what you’ve always received! Here is some good advice;

  1. Traditional training, development & advice will get you to the middle, not the top
  2. Embrace your identity as a leader
  3. Identify and act to close your leadership gaps

Identify and act to build your leadership muscle

If you want to lose weight, get fit and be healthy, then you would identify and act, wouldn’t you? You might get a gym membership, start eating healthy or engage a personal trainer to help keep you committed, focussed and accountable.

Why not use the same formula for your career?

  1. Lose weight:lose the incomplete career advice, lose the lack of confidence.
  2. Get fit:practice self-awareness & business skills exercises and build authentic leadership muscles
  3. Be healthy: discover your purpose, your vision and values then build a career advancement plan

These are logical steps but require commitment, discipline, support and expertise. That’s why I want women to think of me as their career personal trainer. I have designed a 6-step program to build the career muscles that matter for women.

Advancing Women workshops are designed to build the EQ (Emotional Quotient) IQ (Intellectual Quotient) and SQ (Social Quotient) muscles of the current and next generation of female leaders in Australia.

Advancing Women programs are not designed to ‘fix’ women, they are designed to provide the strategies, tools and the practical actions to women who are serious about advancing their prospects. The learning content is balanced to ensure that women aren’t over-committing and perfecting skills, attributes and traits they are already comfortable with and competent at.    All of which result in women advancing, on their own terms!

This article was originally published on MichelleRedFern.com. 

Join the women in procurement conversation in the Procurious Bravo group. 

The Five Myths Of Workplace Underrepresentation, Busted!

Too scared to talk about workplace diversity and inclusion? Dominic Price will happily go first as he debunks the 5 most common myths about underrepresentation.

As a 6-foot-4-inch straight white guy in tech, it might seem unusual that I’m writing about diversity and inclusion. The reason is,more of us need to: write about it, talk about it, and, especially, do something about it.

Just looking at the nightly news in recent weeks, or a new report that underscores the gaps between how tech workers view diversity within their companies and the realities of the situation, it’s apparent how crucial it is to speak out on issues of equality. Speaking up can feel uncomfortable (and heck, by writing this I know I’m making myself a target for criticism), but it’s no longer an option for those of us in groups who hold the most power to stay silent.

My colleagues rightly point out that as a white guy, I’ve got quite a bit of privilege in my industry, and there’s lots of good use for it. So, here’s my boldest attempt yet to make my privilege work for everyone. Specifically, I want to clear up some major misconceptions I hear from others, and predominantly from people who look like me.

Our position of privilege means we are the most removed from the hardships others face and we need to proactively reject the myths we hear.

Myth #1: “Why should we give women and minorities a leg up? Isn’t that unfairly prioritising one group over another?”

Standard words from a fish that doesn’t know it’s in water. It’s much easier to blame others’ misfortunes on lack of intelligence or hard work than on a lack of equal opportunities. This is a protectionist strategy by the strong and wealthy to reduce the power and potential of the perceived weak. For all of the talk about being “data-driven,” many seem to believe that everyone has an equal chance to be in the workplace, despite loads of evidence to the contrary. While it would be nice to think we are all treated equally, simply being a minority can mean being treated differently by others and having fewer social and economic opportunities.

Our position of privilege means we are the most removed from the hardships others in our industry face and need to proactively reject the myths we hear.

Advocating for increased diversity in our industry doesn’t mean people from marginalised groups want an unfair advantage or hand-outs. They just want the same opportunities that others have had.

Myth #2: “You have to be a minority to be involved in diversity & inclusion (D&I).”

A wonderful way to pass the buck. The prevalence of underrepresented minorities talking about a lack of opportunities is because they feel the pain every day and are intrinsically more motivated to make it right. Just because we’re not personally guilty of creating the unequal playing field does not mean we’re not personally responsible for helping to fixing it. When your child spills milk, do you say “not my mess”? Our predecessors helped tilt the playing field, and now it’s our turn to level it out. The sooner we realise we contributed to this problem, (even if only passively through lack of action) the quicker we move from rhetoric to making a difference.

Just because we’re not personally guilty of creating the unequal playing field does not mean we’re not personally responsible for helping to fixing it.

There are plenty of ways to get involved: From merely drawing attention to biased behaviours you see, to getting involved in your company’s existing diversity efforts, or starting your own.

Myth #3: “We just don’t have a diverse applicant pool.”

Ah, yes. A favourite of many, especially in Silicon Valley where recruiting is particularly tough — for example by 2020, there will be nearly 1.5 million unfilled computer science roles. But have you asked yourself why you don’t have a diverse pool? Are you hiring your grads from the same tiny set of schools with very homogeneous student populations? Have you searched for underrepresented candidates, or created programs to bring more into the fold? What have you changed to attract and support them? While the talent pipeline is a common excuse, in truth discrimination,  implicit and explicit, constantly blocks underrepresented minorities from entering or advancing in the field; two-thirds of predominantly white and Asian women in STEM report having to constantly prove themselves in the workplace, with black women facing even more extreme biases and challenges.

It’s also worth examining your recruiting tactics to see if you’re doing anything that could be discouraging underrepresented candidates. From gendered language in job descriptions to playing up the office pool table versus paid parental leave on your careers page, you can inadvertently send the wrong message without realising it.

Myth #4: “This is political correctness gone mad.”

Political correctness is a real thing, but it’s also irrelevant to what we’re discussing here. Can efforts to promote diversity be merely political correctness when there’s a mountain of evidence pointing to it being a real problem? Many studies also show diversity has huge benefits when it comes to business and team performance, so it’s something we should all care about.

It’s true that diversity conversations can be very nuanced, which creates fear about saying the wrong thing. But there is a pretty simple fix, which is to ask questions. Listen to and believe the stories from people from backgrounds different from yours. Educate yourself. In the same way you’d tackle a new project or product feature, gather as much information as possible so you can make better, more informed decisions. This isn’t about stifling your voice, but creating room for everyone to express themselves in a way that helps us all do our best work.

Myth #5. “I don’t see gender or race” or “I treat everyone the same.”

This is straight up empirically false. Your brain sees gender, it sees race and it sees just about every other visible category imaginable, whether you consciously pay attention to it or not. Let me say it again: It is neuroscientifically impossible for you to not see attributes like race and gender, and to keep them from affecting your decision-making. I used to think treating everyone the same was what I should strive for, but it turns out that doing so actually results in discrimination and unequal opportunity. Treating everyone the same, even when they’ve faced vastly different challenges, only serves to keep them on a tilted playing field.

Embracing and supporting diversity is something we’re all responsible for and something that, by definition, we are all a part of (a single person can’t be diverse, so diversity includes white guys like me). To move forward, we need to take the crazy myths we’ve told ourselves that attempt to justify the status quo and throw them out the door. Guys like me have benefited from this mess of inequality more than any other group, so it’s our job to actively share opportunities. We’ll all win, as a team.

With what’s happening in the world, it’s important to keep an open heart and an open mind. The choice is yours. You can either become an active part of the solution or a stoic part of the issue in need of solving. Which one sounds more exciting?

Dominic West is Head of R&D and Work Futurist at Atlassin. This article was originally published on Collective Hub

Best Of The Blog – Neurodiversity – Your Secret HR Weapon

A lack  of understanding about neurodiversity has meant those with a neurodiverse profile have historically endured stigmatisation and struggled in the workplace. John Floyd explains why, and how, this is changing and what we can do to accommodate and embrace differences. 

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting an article about people with neureodiverse profiles, and the unique assets they can bring to your procurement organisation. 

We know the best performing teams are made up of a diverse group of people, whether that be gender, age, ethnicity or educational background. And Headmaster of Bruern Abbey, John Floyd, has just thrown “neurodiversity “ onto the list of must-have employee profiles, to help strengthen and enhance team output.

Recently rated by Tatler as one of the best Prep Schools in the UK, Bruern Abbey specialises in educating boys with dyslexia and dyspraxia. It is the only preparatory school of its kind in the UK and John Floyd is its outstanding headmaster.

John is a firm believer that learning difficulties, or learning differences, should not preclude academic success. In fact, after developing the right learning strategies at Bruern, many of the boys from go on to some of the best senior schools in the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone with dyslexia or dyspraxia is lucky enough to go to Bruern Abbey. Education systems around the world aren’t necessarily set up to accommodate those with neurodiverse profiles such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Of course, this extends to the workplace as well.

It is estimated that:

  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyslexia,
  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyspraxia
  • 5-7 per cent of the population has ADHD
  • 1 per cent of the population has autism

People with neuro-diverse profiles (and there’s a lot of them!) learn differently, think differently and apply their skills in alternate ways. As John succinctly puts it, “The term neurodiversity means that someone has a brain a little bit different to the majority of people”

Turning their differences into a virtue is a great opportunity for any team leader.

Diversity wins out

Organisations are starting to realise that employing people with neurodiverse profiles and optimizing their approach to work is great for business.

A few examples include:

  • MI5’s sister service GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) employs more than 300 employees with neuro-diverse profiles and are actively recruiting more.
  • Organisations such as Microsoft and EY are trialing programs to recruit individuals with neuro-diverse profiles such as Asperger’s.
  • Last May the Labour party in the UK decided to appoint a shadow minister for neurodiversity.

Employers recognise that employees with neurodiverse profiles might offer heightened analytical skills, lateral thinking and a more naturally investigatory mindset than their peers.

How do you manage neurodiversity in your  teams? 

Everyone in your team will have different strengths and weaknesses. The opportunity for you, as a leader, is to optimize every member of your team to allow them to reach their peak performance. The key is to determine who has which strengths and to tailor the opportunities and development to suit that individual.

If you’re expecting a prospective employee’s CV to land on your desk with a neurodiverse label plastered across it, think again!

As John pointed out today, “If you start to see some badly written emails from a team member, you’ll know you shouldn’t assign them to write the press releases. But there will be a whole host of things they can do for you, and probably do better than anyone else!”

John gave a few examples of areas in which those with neurodiverse profiles might particularly excel.

Get them to do the interviewing

Dyslexics often have highly developed and fine-tuned listening and oral skills. They are the most studied of all neurodiverse profiles.

Compensating for having potentially struggled with reading and writing throughout childhood, many of them develop excellent verbal and listening skills.They are likely to be a resilient bunch and great under time pressure. Dyslexics  have learnt how to work well under stress.  having been up against it ever since they were first asked to do school-work.

It could be worth relying upon them to conduct interviews with prospective employees. They might be the most socially engaging person on your team and the most capable at listening to, and evaluating, a candidate.

Let them solve the problems

Adults with dyslexia and Dyspraxia quite literally think differently and are good at cracking codes or seeing patterns in problems that those who read with ease would overlook. They’re also great at re-inventing, re-evaluating and thinking laterally.

Give them the time-sensitive or juggling tasks

A number of adults with forms of neurodiversity such as ADHD can deal with juggling a number of tasks at high speed. It’s what they do all day anyway. For most of us it would be exhausting!  They might come up with too many ideas and try to execute them too quickly but they’ll never run out of steam and they’ll be utterly committed.

John concluded his talk today by urging us not to hesitate in employing somebody with a neurodiverse profile. They’ll be grateful to be employed, they’ll be your most resilient team members and they’ll work diligently.

You can guarantee that they’ll be thinking differently about something long before you’ve even entertained the thought that there could even  be an alternate option.

Women in Leadership: Don’t Make The Mistake Of Behaving Like A Man

Women in leadership: Have you ever had to “behave like a man” to get ahead in the workplace? As part of the Bravo campaign, Procurious will be hearing from a number of high-profile procurement leaders on the topics of diversity, equality and women in procurement.

This week, Procurious caught up with M.L. Peck, Chief Content & Engagement Officer at the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), who is concerned that even in the modern workplace, many women still feel they have to behave like a man to succeed.

She’s the man 

Remember Twelfth Night? Shakespeare’s comedy featured a shipwrecked woman (Viola) who disguises herself as her lost twin brother (Sebastian) to find work in the service of Duke Orsino. If you’re not a Shakespeare fan, you may have seen the 2006 adaptation She’s The Man (starring Amanda Bynes), where teenager Viola Hastings disguises herself as a boy in order to play on the all-male soccer team. Both Violas have to learn how to behave like a man, with their accidental lapses into femininity providing many of the plot’s gags.

Don’t change

“Women shouldn’t have to change who they are in order to be taken seriously. Nobody should”, says M.L. “What we absolutely don’t want is to create a mold of how to be strong leader. Our differences are what make us an asset to the teams we work in.

“I’ve had the fortune to work with women who brought an inherent, feminine ability to collaborate, empathise, multitask and problem-solve to their teams. These qualities are often overlooked and under-represented in the workplace, where we expect our leaders to be hierarchical and dictatorial in approach. In procurement, particularly, collaboration is key. The characteristics attributed to women are the ones that all of our future leaders will need – you can bet that millennials and generation Z won’t want to work in a male-dominated environment.”

But what does “behaving like a man” actually mean? Stereotypical male qualities might include strength, dominance, bullish confidence and as little display of emotion as possible. M.L. comments that when women find themselves in a male-dominated workplace, “We can make the mistake of trying to behave like a man by adopting the characteristics typically associated with men.”

Workplaces still have a long way to come in accepting that people, and leaders in particular, are able to display emotion. Men and women are taught that leaders must be “strong”, which means emotions such as compassion and empathy are redundant. “We’ve still got some of these issues in 2017”, says M.L. “Men who show empathy are thought of as weak, while empathetic women get labeled as emotional. If you choose to lead a team without resorting to an authoritarian style, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to add enormous value in your own way”.

This, in a nutshell, is the power of diversity in our organisations. Building a diverse team of people from different genders, backgrounds and experiences will add new perspectives and insights, which ultimately leads to a better decision-making process.

Working twice as hard to be thought of as half as good

M.L. remembers her mother’s experience in the workplace, citing her as one of her inspirations. “My mum was a pipefitter and really lived in a man’s world. She was the first female on the refinery fire-fighting team. I was raised with my mum’s understanding that women needed to work twice as hard to be thought of as half as good.

“In this scenario, it’s easy to feel victimised; to think ‘I’m different, and people are perceiving me that way’. This makes it all the more tempting to conform to certain workplace behaviours, but my mum always retained her own identity.”

3 ways to encourage more women into procurement leadership roles

  • Initiatives that advocate for diversity are vital, particularly in supply management where there aren’t nearly enough women in leadership positions. Procurious’ Bravo campaign is a great example, as is ISM and THOMASNET’s 30 under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars award, along with ISM’s annual Diversity conference.
  • Providing access to female role models and mentors will help organisations attract and retain women from entry-level through to senior positions. Organisations that want to attract top female talent need to have a diverse and inspiring leadership team.
  • Shout about what you’re doing to address gender disparity in the workplace. Companies that hold special events for women or minority groups really do see a difference – events give people an opportunity to build their networks, and provide direct access to the C-Suite who make the important decisions about diversity and inclusion.

Get involved with the Bravo campaign via our Women in Procurement group. Join M.L. Peck and other members of the ISM Leadership team at ISM2017.