Tag Archives: women in procurement

7 Steps To Telling A Story

If you want anyone to take action from the information you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create, a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling. Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.
There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling.
Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.

The importance of storytelling

Every single day, more information is created than existed from the dawn of time up until 2013. We’ve got hoards of information being streamed at us, which ironically doesn’t really work because we are not logical, linear people at our hearts.
Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation  believes humans are wired for stories because they are how we connect and how we engage. “They are the only way you build empathy and a connection with someone else – I tell you my story you tell me yours.
“If you want anyone to take action from the information that you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create then a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.”
On Day Four of the Bravo podcast series, Julie shares her top tips for becoming a master story teller.

1. Make it compelling

If you want some guidance on how to tell a great story, Julie advises that you start watching Netflix with an eye for storytelling. Consider how do they do it , what happens in the first 20 seconds of a compelling story. “It is a formula, so if you’re curious, watch more television!  Ask yourself, what is the last story that caught your attention and what is the last story that lost your attention?”

2. Make a clear structure

Julie believes that we put far too much kudos on how we tell or present a story and not nearly enough focus on how we structure that message in the first place. The most groundbreaking pieces of information will fall flat if they aren’t structured in a way that’s going to compel attention.

3. Be relatable

Julie advises that you organise your story into a few main points. “Are you using useful ideas and useful examples to illustrate those points – examples that [your listeners] can relate to.”

4. Have a clear beginning and a clear ending

“This one flies under the radar all too often” Julie explains . “It’s important to consider what you want us to do with your story as a result of your story. Is there something you want us to do differently, or believe differently?” Having a compelling opening is also important to draw in your audience. Julie suggests opening with question, which will “guide you into an interesting space and usually gets attention fast.”

5. Take it slow

“One of the key things we do when we’re nervous is speed up. So slow down, take a breath and remember to pause.” Julie advises that it is especially important to pause following an important point. “Our brains take a while to catch up with where you’re at and if you just keep on talking we’ll miss the fact that you believe this part was important.”

6. Monitor your movement

“Don’t be afraid to be still” Julie asserts. ‘If you’re constantly moving around  it’s like listening to the sound of a washing machine – you tune out.  Similarly, if you’re still and rigid we’ll tune out. Use your body for impact, move at certain points if you’re illustrating a point and then stand still and grounded for another point.”

7. Vary your Voice

It’s important to avoid speaking in monotone and varying your tone, pitch, volume and speed. “Up the energy of your voice and then bring it back down again. Use all the tools you have to get and maintain our attention.”

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 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!) 

Don’t Stick To Procurement – Adventure Is Out There!

Procurement professionals can, and should, move in and out of the profession – it will make you better at what you do! 

Shutterstock/ By Dudarev Mikhail

We all want to get the most out of our procurement jobs, but it’s easier said than done.

Should you stay in procurement for your whole career?

What key skills should you focus on developing?

And how do you aim high whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

With 20 years’ experience in procurement, a team of 300 people and a total spend of $14 billion Telstra’s CPO, Thomai Veginis, knows a thing or two about successful procurement careers.

Moving in and out of the profession

One of the reasons Thomai has been so successful in her career is due to the skills she’s learnt outside of the profession. “You can – and should – move in and out of the profession. The skills are absolutely transferrable and personally, I’ve appreciated the profession more when I’ve been out of it.”

“A trait you sometimes see in procurement teams is a lack of empathy for people who don’t follow the process.”  Thomai notes that working in different areas of the business has taught her to have empathy, in particular, for sales and delivery roles. “Gaining experience in that kind of role will help you be a better procurement professional.” 

“If you want to develop empathy,” she advises, “go and do a front-line, customer-facing role, and you’ll understand how hard it can be. One of the compliments I receive is that people want to work with me because I understand the sense of urgency for the people in front-line sales. When [sales teams] call me in my procurement function, they’re often quite desperate and in need of some help, and I understand what that’s like – being in need of some support from a function that’s not your own . So I’ll prioritise that and work with them closely.”

And when it comes to working in other areas of the business, procurement skills are highly transferable. “Honestly the commercial that skills you get in a procurement role are transferable everywhere; relationship roles, managing contracts understanding the nuances of a deal, what makes a deal etc.  That’s the kind of stuff that you use in any role.  I’ve been in tech roles and been able to leverage my procurement skills to bring another perspective and more value. And then you become a better person when you come back into the function.”

Thomai also recommends that procurement professionals use any time working elsewhere as an opportunity to get to know the nuances of the organisation. It’s a chance to reach out to stakeholders, find out their business plans, what’s happening for them this year and discover their pain points.

Finding a balance

Thomai has worked in project roles focused on delivering to a customer which saw her working in the office from 8.00am until 8.00pm. “As a result of that work I had the opportunity to be promoted but realised I didn’t want to be in that career path because I couldn’t spend the time I needed with my children.”

“Over my career I’ve tried to manage my work-life balance. In procurement roles you can balance it better than people in a sales role who need to fit in with their customers’ schedules.”

She believes that procurement is an ideal career for parents returning to work. Not that you work less – it’s more about the opportunity to work flexibly in ways that work for you.

“When I came back from maternity leave after my second child, one of the first things I did was to stand in front of my team and explain that I’ve got two young children and I plan to leave at 5pm everyday. It’s important people understood how I  was going to balance my life. I can do the role if I’m in the office after 5pm or not.

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!)

Can We Tell You A Procurement Story?

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

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

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

What is the Bravo podcast series?

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

How do I listen to the podcast series?

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

How will I know when each podcast is published?

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

Is the podcast series available to anyone?

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

When does the podcast series take place. 

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

Podcast speakers

1. Thomai Veginis – CPO – Telstra

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

2. Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation

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

3. Carlee McGowan, GM Planning – Telstra

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

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

4. Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advocating For Inclusion Is The Best Way To Get It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Free Your Decisions From Bias

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debias by accepting your fallibility

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

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

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

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

Biases show up in:

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

What we notice

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

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

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

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

Notice what you notice

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

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

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

What we expect

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

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

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

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

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

Disrupt your expectations

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

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

What we ask

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

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

Question what you ask

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

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

What we value

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

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

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

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

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

Put the value back into evaluation

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

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

Put it all together

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can all keep working to debias our decisions.

What to do if you believe in merit:

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

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

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

Sunny studio/Shutterstock.com

Supplier diversity programs are a hot topic.

We know we’re supposed to have them…

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

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

What is supplier diversity?

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

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

United States

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

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

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

South Africa

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

UK

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

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

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

Australia

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

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

Why should our organisations support supplier diversity?

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

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

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

1. Clients

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

2. Competition

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

3. Compliance

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

4. Communities

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

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

5. Customisation innovation

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

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

6. Costs

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

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

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

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

How can supplier diversity add value to your organisation?

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

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

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

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

Supplier diversity programs are too time consuming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.