Tag Archives: women in procurement

Working Parents: Stop Hiding Your Children at Work

Supercharging my career and nurturing my family at the same time has always been a struggle for me….until I brought my children out of the closet and into the workplace.

 

 

 

Join our Women in Procurement group, Bravo,  here.

Last week,  Professor Robert E Kelly and his two mischievous children starred in one of the funniest viral videos of all time. The whole world laughed when, in the middle of a live BBC interview, Professor Kelly’s children burst in to the room and hilariously upstaged him.

If the clip has, by some miracle, passed you by, here it is in all of its side-splitting glory:

Yes, it’s pretty funny. But let’s face it, how many times have you closed the door on your children, locked them away in a (metaphorical) closet or pushed them away when you had to perform your professional duties.

In reality, we’re constantly keeping our families behind closed doors so we can get on with our working lives. For years I have felt the need to downplay my family commitments in order to be seen as a serious career professional.

My stress levels were continually going through the roof. I was gliding over the surface with style at work, but paddling like a crazy duck under the waterline in an attempt to manage all the demands of my personal life.

But a year or so ago I decided to bring my children more visibly into my work life and it has made a big difference to me, my children…and – most importantly – those I work with.

My first foray with bringing my children to work was to take my son to Europe’s largest procurement conference, ProcureCon, Berlin. I was a speaker on a panel and thought it would be a great chance for my son to see me in action. So much for him learning about my work: he didn’t look up from his iPad once! I don’t think he learnt a squat about what I did, but at least I made the effort. Importantly, I was really touched that people were positive about my son attending the event.

One of my fellow delegates sent me this note –

“You and I met in Berlin last month at the ProcureCon Europe Conference. I admired how you were able to be real without dropping the ball on exuding leadership and kindness! But, I think that what really impressed me was that you brought your beautiful son to the conference, he was so sweet and shy! In bringing him with you, without realising it, you managed to reflect what most women go through when we have to work long hours or travel a great deal, away from our families and loved ones. There have been times that in my travels or long hours I wish I could just have my babies near me…the guilt of being dedicated to the person that makes me who I am, can be a bit heavy. But we all do, both men and women, to provide for our families, while at the same time try to get something out of the sacrifices that we may have to make. So, I sincerely thank you for bringing your son with you.”

My second foray was to take my younger son to listen to a speech I made at the Australian Embassy for Future Leaders. When I asked him about the experience afterwards, he thought about it and said, “The lemonade was great”. Another breakthrough (not)!

I know not everyone has the same flexibility as someone who runs their own company. However, as business leaders, we can do a lot to help manage the stress levels of working parents. We need to walk the talk and recognise that everyone has priorities (and not always children) that compete with work.

Here are my four ideas on how we could stop hiding our children at work and build more fluid relationships between work and home.

1.  Talk about Family

In the early days of parenthood I never spoke about my children in the workplace because I wanted to be seen as “professional”. When I first started sharing small amounts of information about my family, I realised that most of the people I worked with were parents too and could totally relate to my plight. In the right circumstances, sharing family stories has actually helped me build business relationships.

2. Take your children to work 

I have lived through so many tough days when I felt I really had to be in two places at once.  For example, having a “career-changing” meeting planned (luckily these are few and far between and the skill is in knowing which meetings really count) and, just as I was about to get started, receiving a compelling, competing call for my attention,  from a family member. These were the times when my stress levels reached an all time high and I started to think that the only solution was to quit my job and focus solely on family.

Working from home is widely accepted on these types of days, but if you were still wanting to fulfill your work obligations for just one or two hours, wouldn’t it be great if we were “allowed” to bring our family into the office?? I can hear the pressure valve release at the mere thought of it!

3. Put children in the picture 

We need more imagery of children in the places where we are building our careers. Perhaps you’ve seen the image that went viral of a US Professor who picked up and carried a crying baby during a lecture? He calmed the child, allowing the class to continue and, most importantly, the parent to complete the class.

Some of the most popular photos of outgoing US President, Barack Obama, have been with children within the White House, which is his normal place of work. We need to see more child-friendly work imagery.

4.    Remember – Everyone has priorities 

Having said all of this, working parents need to be cognisant that we aren’t the only people in the universe with priorities competing with our work. Whether you’re a parent of one, four or ten children (heaven forbid!) or even if you don’t have children, everyone struggles at times to manage their personal and professional lives in the best, and most healthy, way possible.

What we can do, as people who understand these struggles, is to be understanding of every individual, make accommodations where possible and offer flexible working environments. That way, we’ll get the most out of our happy, stress-free team!

Procurious has launched Bravo!, a group that seeks to celebrate and promote women working within procurement. Get involved here.

Are You Ready For The Gig Economy? Some Of Us Have Already Taken The Leap

Kishwar Rahman shares her thoughts on the upcoming shift to a gig economy, the need for digital transformation, and the importance of networks for women in procurement.

Thriving in the gig economy

Rahman, a digital transformation lawyer, has recently completed a project as policy lead for the digital marketplace in the Australian Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Agency. She has now progressed to a lead role working for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to assist in setting up an e-Marketplace for the organisation.

“I’m a classic example of the gig-economy professional”, says Rahman. “I’ve moved from project to project, offering my professional skills. Businesses are increasingly looking to hire the right people at the right time for project-based employment.”

According to Rahman, the whole notion of the permanent role is becoming less appropriate as businesses transition towards a consultancy model where experts move between businesses or different projects within a large organisation. “It’s very different to the concept of the ‘job for life’ that existed in our parents’ generation, and still an expectation of employment in the public service.”

So, what can organisations and individuals do to prepare for the gig economy? From the organisational side, it pays to be prepared for an upcoming transformation. A gig-economy office, for example, will look very different to workplaces of the past. They will be structured around a fluid and ever-changing group of professionals coming into the business, working with others on specific projects, then departing for different roles when they have completed their projects.  One obvious symptom of this is the disappearing concept of the employees work station which is now being replaced by lockers for personal belongings and individual desks in quiet areas and larger tables for collaborative work.

Businesses also need to future-proof their customer-facing policies that currently favour clients with permanent roles. “Take banks, for example” says Rahman. “If you’ve ever applied for a home loan, you’ll know that they prefer to lend money to people with permanent roles. Unless they reassess their lending criteria, they’ll soon find that they won’t have enough clients as permanent roles become a thing of the past.”

Individuals, on the other hand, can prepare themselves for the gig economy by examining which of their skills could be put to use across multiple businesses, honing their expertise in those areas and becoming a member of a multi-disciplinary and multi-forming teams that move from one project to the next once they have achieved their outcomes and completed their deliverables.

Digital transformation – getting stakeholders on board

Rahman’s experience in driving digital transformation has led her to pick up essential change-management and implementation skills. “Getting people on board with a technological or process transformation is always one of the biggest challenges”, she says. “The most effective means of persuasion is to show them the efficiency in terms of speed and cost benefits. We live in a culture that expects extreme responsiveness and near-instant results, so simply highlighting speed gains will always be more effective than going into detail about improved workflows and processes.” Similarly, organisation want to find cost savings by digitising manual processes.

Another effective way to win stakeholders over to your transformation improvement is to find some common language on the benefits of the change. “Look for a benefit that everyone can relate to. A digital transformation, for example, will almost always lead to the automation of administrative tasks, which will free people up to do more creative and meaningful work. Reskilling and retraining will also be critical to this gig-economy.   Education and training will also have to change in form and shape of delivery with consumers demanding the option to shape a course and its mode of delivery and study at their own time and pace to fit it around paid work and personal commitments”.

Networking with women in procurement

One of the reasons Rahman is attending Women in Procurement 2017 is out of curiosity. “Before last year I didn’t know there was a separate forum for women in the profession. I’m interested in seeing who’s going to be there, who’s participating, and who are the female leaders in the field. Additionally, the procurement profession, just when it has started to be recognised as a profession, is also being reshaped by the gig-economy. What will procurement look like in the future and what are the skill set that young women will need to participate in this profession in the future”.

The networking opportunity is also crucial. “Historically, women have had a lack of access to networks. Events like this can connect you with a pool of expertise – peers who you can ring up and share ideas with and problem solve.”

How To Stop Writing ‘Like A Girl’ In The Workplace

Are women inclined to be more apologetic and less definitive in the workplace than men? Is a woman’s language and writing style more likely to be unassuming, uncertain – and possibly even self-deprecating?

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.

I’m a staunch feminist. Career driven, financially independent and proudly vocal about gender equality.

But I am also a copywriter and corporate trainer – a profession that forces me to scrutinise the way people write in the workplace every day. And although I routinely come across all types of business professionals who write poorly, I recently wondered: do women have specific bad writing habits of their very own?

So I did some quick research, and within a few minutes my hunch was confirmed.

According to Leadership Coach and Strategist Ellen Petry Leanse, women are three to four times more likely to use the word ‘just’ in their emails and conversations at work.

‘I am just wondering if you are available to discuss…’
‘Just following up on that report…’
‘I’m just writing to let you know that…’

So what’s wrong with ‘just’?

As Leanse explains, it’s a permission word. An apology for interrupting. Or a shy knock on a door before asking a question we have every right to ask.

Why do women feel the need to undermine the importance of their requests before even making them? I suspect we’re scared of being labelled overbearing, controlling – or god-forbid bossy. And so we overcompensate.

But here’s the more important question: What’s the consequence for women who use this weak, hesitant language at work? My hypothesis? Slower, fewer and less substantive responses to our requests… and ultimately, lower levels of respect from colleagues and clients.

(And trust me, women don’t need extra help when it comes to subtle sexism and gender inequality in the workplace.)

However, using the word ‘just’ is not the only writing crime females are more likely to commit than males. Here are some more email writing habits that could compromise your credibility at work.

  1. Overuse of qualifiers

Words such as ‘might’, ‘probably’, ‘maybe’, ‘somewhat’ and ‘possibly’ weaken your message and reveal a lack of confidence in what you’re saying.

If you don’t believe what you’re writing, why should your reader?

Before: You might want to reconsider our financial targets as I think they are probably a little too low.

After: I recommend we increase our financial targets.

  1. Unnecessary apologising and over-justification

Although apologies are appropriate on certain occasions, think twice next time you want to use the word ‘sorry’.

Do you really have something to be sorry for? Or are you simply asking a colleague to perform a task that falls comfortably within their job description?

Before: I am sorry for the inconvenience as I know you are very busy, but can you please pop by my workstation when you are next available as my computer seems to be quite slow today.

After: My computer is very slow today. Can you please come to my workstation today to have a look?

And be careful not to apologise for something that’s outside your control – or for not fulfilling an unrealistic request:

Before: I am so sorry but I wasn’t able to meet your deadline. I had too many other commitments and I need to get up really early in the morning. I tried my best but just couldn’t manage it. I hope you understand.

After: As suspected, I wasn’t able to meet your deadline. I will call you tomorrow morning to discuss next steps.

  1. Asking superfluous questions. Seeking permission.

Questions such as ‘is that okay with you?’ and ‘am I making sense?’ show a lack of confidence in your own opinions, suggestions and accomplishments.

If you need to ask whether or not you’re making sense, then you either already know your email is confusing – or you are revealing that you’re unsure of yourself and your ability to communicate effectively.

Before: ‘Would you like to see a summary of my research? You may find it quite surprising.’

After: ‘Here is a summary of my research. It contains many surprising findings, including…’

  1. Overly polite and waffly

What’s wrong with being polite?, I hear you say.

Nothing. But many of us take it too far, which can dilute the core message we’re trying to communicate.

Before: I hope you are well and that you had a really great weekend. I am just writing about our catch up next Friday and was wondering if we could possibly reschedule to the following week? Is that okay with you?

After: I have a conflict next Friday and need to reschedule our meeting. Does the following week suit you?

So, c’mon, ladies. Let’s stop undermining ourselves. It’s time to ditch these words and phrases from our emails and earn ourselves the respect in the workplace we know we deserve.

Vikki Maver is a specialist web content writer, marketing copywriter and writing skills trainer. This article first appeared on her website, refreshmarketing.com.au.

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

 

Be Bold For Change On International Women’s Day 2017

Did you know that 80% of presenters at Procurement conferences are male? How can this possibly help promote female leadership in the profession? If you’re looking for a rallying place to #BeBoldForChange on International Women’s Day, Procurious has launched Bravo! to celebrate and motivate women working within procurement.

Join the Bravo! group and take part in the discussion today!

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8th March each year. The first ever Women’s Day event of this kind was observed in the US in 1909. Since then, people from around the world have united to celebrate, empower and motivate women with the ultimate aim of achieving gender equality and fair recognition for women’s achievements.

The day’s success is due, in part, to its lack of affiliation to any one particular group or authority. Rather, the day sees the bringing together of individuals, organisations, charities governments and corporations with a common cause.

 What can you expect from this year’s International Women’s Day? It all depends on where you are in the world and what takes your fancy. In some places, women are striking; in others they are holding conferences, festivals and exhibitions. You can guarantee they’ll be protests, concerts, special cinema screenings, comedy shows, online digital gatherings and award ceremonies aplenty. Certain countries, namely Armenia, China, Cuba, Russia, Ukraine and Zambia, even recognise International Women’s Day as an official holiday. Can’t wait for that to catch on elsewhere!

You can find out about everything that’s going on near you via the official IWD website.

Get involved with Bravo! on Procurious

 Procurious launched the Bravo! campaign last year in support of all women working within procurement. Our experiences with the global procurement community highlighted the gender disparity which still exists within the function. The talent pipeline might be full to bursting with superstar women at entry – mid level. But, at leadership level, that same pipeline is overwhelmingly stocked with men. In an article published on Procurious, recruitment expert Jennifer Swain commented:

“We need to get more women into procurement and logistics.  We need to raise awareness to young talent at college or university as to what an amazing career in procurement and supply chain can be.  If more females take entry level roles, it stands to reason that there will be more females climbing the career ladder.  Secondly, equalling out the gender ratios can only help eradicate any sexism still lingering in the industry.”

When we investigated the facts we discovered that in the majority of procurement associations, women account for 20-35 per cent of memberships. At procurement conferences, they represent 30 per cent of attendees and just 20 per cent of speakers.

Penny Rush, Program Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at PwC Australia, recommends that advocates for gender equality equip themselves with the facts. “It’s important to have the latest figures at hand to help us celebrate the gains we’ve made towards gender equality, but also to highlight the distance we still have to go”, she said. “For example, an Ipsos poll on attitudes to gender equality released yesterday revealed that one in five Australians believe men are ‘more capable’ than women, and eight in 10 women believe gender inequality still exists.”

Bravo! seeks to challenge and rectify this inequality by promoting strong and inspiring women in procurement and tackling issues such as diversity, inclusion and workplace sexism.

We’d love to hear your plans for IWD. How are you getting involved? What do you believe are the benefits of an event such as this? Have you, or your procurement team, been bold for change and, if so, what have you done? Let us know in the discussion board on Procurious or via the Bravo! group.

The origins of International Women’s Day

In 1909 the Socialist Party of America rallied to commemorate the 1908 New York garment workers strike, which saw 10,000 take to the streets to campaign. They protested for equal pay, shorter hours and better working conditions.

Throughout the years, the event has taken on many forms and been gradually adopted by different countries whether its to protest against war, set gender equality targets or fight for women’s education.

IWD has been celebrated on the 8th March since 1913 but was only officially recognised by the United Nations in 1975. Since then, each year has had a specific theme.

Of course, cultures and attitudes towards women have drastically changed, for the better, since the early 1900s. It wouldn’t be a women’s equality event without the usual cries of “But do we really need a women’s day? Aren’t things pretty much equal now anyway and, besides, there’s no international men’s day?”

Firstly, there actually is an international men’s day.

And secondly, things aren’t pretty much equal just yet. The original aims of IOW are yet to be achieved. Statistics show that:

Be Bold For Change

The theme, and official hashtag, for this year’s event is #BeBoldForChange :

“Whether it’s organising your own event or making a pledge to speak out about equality, we can each play our part in creating a fairer world. If you joined the Women’s Marches on 21 January, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, to protest prejudice, misogyny and racism, you’ll know that powerful feeling of taking action. Being bold for change means continuing that work and not staying silent.”

 In short, being bold for change means standing up for women, standing up for inequality and challenging sexism whenever, and wherever, you can. Every single person can make a world of difference by calling out discriminatory behaviour when they see it happen, in their personal or professional lives.

If you haven’t quite managed to keep up with all of Procurious’ Bravo! content, you’ll find some of the highlights below:

Join the women in procurement conversation via our Bravo group. 

Why Fit In When You Were Born To Stand Out? : The Case for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

There’s no question that diversity and inclusion is good for business. But, Tom Verghese explains why a new approach is needed. 

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.

Diversity in our workplaces is important. It’s widely acknowledged that diversity in our leadership teams matters. It’s imperative for any organisation that wants to achieve and remain competitive. Diversity helps to generate new ideas, drive creativity, and meet market needs; it also reflects our own communities. While the benefits are many and varied I want to draw your attention to a recent body of research ‘Diversity Matters’ conducted by McKinsey & Company.

Diversity Matters Study

One of the key findings from this study is that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.

The authors contend, based on other studies and the correlation in this study between diversity and performance, that the more diverse an organisation is the more successful they are at winning top talent, customer orientation, employee satisfaction and effective decision-making.

While this research paper found that no organisation performed well in all areas of diversity (it is a very select few who do) it highlights the ongoing demand for diversity training programs.

Diversity policies and approaches tend to be country specific. However, traditionally the common approach in countries such as the UK, U.S and Australia has been to adopt a single diversity program that covers all areas from gender and age, to race, ethnicity, sex, religion and disability.

I contend that one of the problems with this approach is that some more visible areas of diversity such as gender, have received more focus than others, namely race and ethnicity.

A new approach to diversity is needed

A new mindset and approach to diversity needs to occur. The overall current characterisation and management of diversity is too broad, it commands greater depth.  In other words, a more individualised, tailored approach is required, it needs to be ‘unbundled’.

At the same time, I would go one step further and posit that diversity in any organisation or workplace cannot be fully realised without an equal and complementary focus on inclusion.

The challenge of inclusion is not in producing a diverse workplace; diversity is rather the natural outcome of inclusion. If we define diversity as all the ways we are different – that which is the human condition, then inclusion is our ability to value, recognise and appreciate these differences.

It is possible for organisations to hire a diverse workforce, however, without the necessary corresponding inclusion policies.

We see ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups start to form and those in the ‘out’ groups (typically those people who find themselves in a demographic minority) less likely to stay in their roles.

Attraction and retention are equally important partners in any organisation’s D&I journey; they must therefore be given equal effort and intent. If we focus back on our gender example, inclusion on a basic level means making women feel welcome and valued in the workplace. This can be reflected in policies such as: flexible work arrangements for men and women, allowance for career breaks, available role models, mentoring opportunities, and affinity groups.

It is worth noting that these types of policies will differ across different societies or cultures. Organisations that work across borders must consequently be aware and knowledgeable of these implications.

Managing a diverse organisation

Diversity and Inclusion is not an easy undertaking. Managing a diverse organisation is far more difficult than managing a homogenous one, and it requires a completely different skillset.

Leaders must step up to the challenge and in many cases push past the latent philosophy of maintaining status quo – the ‘why change something if it is not broken’ attitude we all too often still see represented in the homogenous recruitment policies of organisations.

Specific programmes that develop, monitor and promote ongoing continuous improvement need to be implemented.

Some examples are unconscious bias training, cultural intelligence training, mentoring, or executive coaching. These programs provide greater rigour, understanding and appreciation that make real headway into changing attitudes, behaviours and outcomes.

Why, What and How?

In conclusion, I would like to put forward three questions organisations can ask in order to pursue an integrated approach to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I):

  • WHY – Organisations must establish the reasons why D&I is important for them
  • WHAT – Organisations must educate their leaders on D&I, bias and its impact on decision-making
  • HOW – Organisations must examine the policies, procedures and processes that systematically re-enforce the current state

Further to improving diversity and inclusion, organisations and their leaders must visibly demonstrate that they believe in the value of D&I and assert why it is a priority in a manner that influences, promotes and inspires others to also commit.

As the authors of ‘Diversity Matters’ point out we “must do more to take full advantage of the opportunity that diverse leadership teams represent… we live in a global world that has become deeply interconnected.” This research serves as an ongoing reminder of the headway that we have made to date in countries such as the U.S and U.K in diversity. But it also highlights the benefits to be gained and that there is still much work to be done.

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

If I Could Turn Back Time: Advice To My Younger Procurement Self

Imagine if you could go back in time to when you started your first job. Wouldn’t you love to reassure yourself it was all going to be ok or offer some advice on how to navigate the next few years of your career? 

ashatan-f/Shutterstock.com

Procurious recently launched Bravo, a new group seeking to address gender disparity in the workplace, and celebrate and empower women working within procurement.

As part of the Bravo campaign, Procurious will be interviewing a number of high profile procurement leaders and seeking their advice on how we can help other women to get ahead in their procurement careers.

Michelle Baker is Global Procurement Director: IT and Business Services Categories at  SABMiller Procurement.

In this interview Michelle discusses the issues that affect women in the workplace, advice she would offer her younger self and why she loves procurement!

Michelle will also be attending this year’s Big Ideas Summit as a panelist to talk about Global Risk assessments.

What have been the most successful approaches organisations you know have taken to decrease gender disparity?

  1. Putting gender disparity on the leadership agenda of issues to address.
  2. Balanced slates in recruitment.
  3. Making gender disparity a talking topic across the whole company, irrespective of people’s gender.

What has been your most rewarding experience and greatest accomplishment to date?

Leading and developing people in diverse global teams (and not just gender diverse, but race, religion, age, sexual orientation  etc.) has been fantastically rewarding personally.

My greatest accomplishment in the workplace is  that I am still curious and excited about the work I do after so many years:  IT’s evolution has  meant I have to constantly hurry to keep up!

What issues currently affect you as a woman in procurement?

I don’t think diversity is an issue exclusively to procurement.

But, looking back, I think the absence of positive role models in senior roles made it more difficult to navigate corporate politics than it needed to be.

Who are the most influential women in your life?

Too many to mention!  I have a healthy group of friends and family that go back to my early days at university in South Africa and many others scattered across the countries in which I’ve lived.  They each offer their own special support, whether they know it or not,  in my development.

Why is procurement the perfect career for you?

It keeps me endlessly curious and allows me to have direct contact with what a range of senior stakeholders in my company are doing and trying to achieve.

If you could offer your younger self two pieces of advice, what would they be?

Find a mentor, and never stop learning.

Some of the Procurious team joined Michelle at a Women in Procurement Breakfast last year at ProcureCon IT.

Following an  insightful discussion,  everyone said  the two pieces of advice that they would offer their younger selves.

Michelle put together this fantastic infographic to represent the group’s responses.

Let us know the two pieces of advice you’d  like to offer your younger self via the Bravo group. 

Join the  Big Ideas 2017 conversation and register as a digital delegate 

The Glass Ceiling For Women In Procurement and Supply Chain – Myth or reality?

If the glass ceiling is a figment of our imaginations, why do so few women make it to the top? 

Hyejin Kang/Shutterstock.com

Procurious’ new group, Bravo, celebrates women in procurement- Join the conversation here.  

This article was originally published on Jennifer Swain’s LinkedIn profile

There’s a lot of talk about the glass ceiling for women. Do they really exist and what can be done about it? I decided to really give this situation some thought to try to understand WHY there are so few females in Head Of or Director level roles within supply chain, procurement and logistics.

Traditional Logistics

Up until fairly recently there were certain industries / vocations that were considered either man’s work or women’s work. The stereotype twenty years ago that girls want to grow up to be Nurses and boys to work as Engineers is now very outdated to most.  But it’s legacy does still live on in some businesses.

Logistics definitely comes under the former stereotype of being a “man’s job” and still to this day this view point can be found in the culture of some warehouse operations.  Granted, the page 3 girls plastered on the walls may have disappeared for the main.

But, I have witnessed on occasion women with more talent being overlooked for opportunities, with an extreme case where I was asked by one company owner how old the woman was as he was concerned she was going to go and have children in the next 12 months and he would have to pay maternity!

Numbers game

Possible due to the lingering perception of point one, it is a fact that far fewer women than men enter into a profession in Logistics and Supply Chain in the first place. Obviously then, it stands to reason that if the ratio of men to women in entry level positions is heavily-weighted to the male of the species, that as you move up the career ladder this ratio will still apply.

Biology

 I preface this by saying that I am possibly the biggest feminist I know (to the chagrin of my other half sometimes) but I am also pragmatic and, having had 2 kids myself, do believe that, for most women, having kids brings with it a reassessment of what is important and the need to have a work / life balance.

I have a number of male counterparts who I worked with earlier in my career who reached Director level before me – not because they were better than me, but because they hadn’t taken 2 years out to have a family. Of course, there are  stay at home dads too but it is less common. Crucially, it should be a woman’s choice how they manage family and working life and society needs to make this easier.

Lack of Applications

When I advertise on ANY platform, the ratio of male to female applicants can be as much as 40:1.  Now I appreciate that part of this is down to point 2 above, however I also feel there is much more inertia on the part of women to push their careers forward.

I feel that some women believe it is not worth applying for certain roles as they think it would be a pointless exercise and their application would be overlooked if there is someone with very similar experience and skills also applying and who also happens to be male.

It has also become apparent to me that men and women view a job description in very different ways.  A man will look at a job specification and highlight all the things he CAN do, and apply for the role on the basis that he may tick 70 per cent of the boxes.  A woman will look at the same job description and look at all the things they CANNOT do and NOT apply because they don’t tick 30 per cent of the boxes.

Now this I know comes across as a sweeping generalisation – something I am always very wary of, but I personally cannot come up with any other explanation as to the lack of applications I get from women and I know you are out there as we are connected on LinkedIn!

So, these are the main reasons why I feel there may be restrictions in place to women achieving the upper echelons in business.  More importantly, what can we do about it?

Improve the Talent Pipeline

We need to get more women into procurement and logistics.  We need to raise awareness to young talent at college or university as to what an amazing career in procurement and supply chain can be.  If more females take entry level roles, it stands to reason that there will be more females climbing the career ladder.  Secondly, equalling out the gender ratios can only help eradicate any sexism still lingering in the industry, which again will assist in creating equality in promotion.

Help to Stamp Out Sexism and the Glass Ceiling

I do appreciate that sexism in the workplace is a rare occurrence these days. Most professionals of both sexes are accepting, progressive individuals who judge people on their skills and experience, not their gender. However sexism DOES still exist.  I have experienced first-hand and I know my experiences are not unique.

It can feel like a scary thing to do to stand up to those who display sexist behaviour but there are procedures in place and help available to assist anyone experiencing this type of discrimination.  At the risk of sounding like a self-help guru, if you don’t bring it to the attention of those who can do something about it, the glass ceiling situation will never get better, not just for you but for your successors.

Positive Mental Attitude

Cheesy maybe, but true!  This probably applies more to us ladies who are in male-dominant environment because we have to feel confident in our ability to push ourselves to move forward in what can sometimes feel like a hostile environment because of our minority status.

I welcome any application from people of any colour, race, religion or gender and if there are question marks around your suitability for an opportunity, this is something I will be happy to discuss with you and either put to bed any fears.

Procurious would love to hear your thoughts and comments on Jennifer’s article.  Is your procurement career being haltered by a glass ceiling?  Join the Bravo group  here to take part in the discussion. 

Fortune Favours the Bravest Procurement Professionals

Don’t let a lack of confidence hold your career back- Sometimes it pays to throw yourself into the riskiest of situations.

Sunny studio/Shutterstock.com

Procurious recently launched Bravo, a new group seeking to address gender disparity in the workplace, and celebrate and empower women working within procurement.

As part of the Bravo campaign, Procurious will be interviewing a number of high profile leaders and seeking their advice on how we can help other women to get ahead in their procurement careers.

Deanna Lomas is the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Super Retail Group, one of Australasia’s largest retailers. Headquartered in Brisbane, Super Retail Group has over 630 retail stores and almost 12,000 team members across Australia, New Zealand and China. SRG provide solutions and engaging experiences that inspire their customers to live their leisure passions. SRG is the owner of iconic Australian brands including Amart Sports, BCF Boating Camping Fishing, Supercheap Auto, Rays and Rebel.

In this interview Deanna discusses her greatest achievements, gives her tips for reducing gender disparity in organisations and explains why confidence is so crucial.

How can procurement motivate more women to join the profession (and stay with it!) ? 

As procurement leaders, we have a role in advocating for the profession and showcasing possible career paths. Procurement and supply chain professionals do not always get a strong voice in the external environment so it’s important we proactively engage and participate in the conversation. Procurious is a great example of this!

We also have an obligation as leaders to support women entering into procurement, specifically to coach and encourage them. This takes a personal commitment of time and effort but we just simply need to do it.

What have been the most successful approaches organisations you know have taken to decrease gender disparity?

Organisations have to be brave and articulate some target aspirations. This focuses leaders on a goal that, with reporting and measurement of progress, has the best chance of success.

The biggest challenge is to ensure that, once you get momentum on increasing the representation of women, you also work to create a culture that welcomes them. This might mean improving and developing the inclusion behaviours in your team members.

Pay equity checks by organisations are a powerful way of reducing gender disparity.  I have worked for organisations that have made commitments to pay equity across the board and this reassures me that I am an equitable and valued team member.

What has been your most rewarding experience and greatest accomplishment to date? 

My greatest accomplishment was paying my own way through University to complete three Bachelor degrees and a Masters qualification. However, my most rewarding career experience was a being a leader of a large team that I had the opportunity to reshape and create, the best team I have led so far!  A big part of my approach was focusing on a ‘service of others’ model in the leadership brand for the team. This enabled us to attract and retain fabulous people that gave their best to the business.

What do you see as being the emerging trends for procurement?

Technology enablement continues to be both a challenge and an emerging opportunity.  Too few organisations have been able to create processes and systems that make procurement efficient, collaborative and real-time.  It’s easy to default to complex process, controls and governance that can restrict the ability of the business to be agile.

The other emerging trend I see is the move towards the creation of genuine collaborative eco-systems between multiple external partners and the organisation. The greatest opportunities will come from cross industry collaboration with the beneficiary – the organisation – who is at the heart of the value realisation. I see this as a reduction in traditional “two-party” partnerships and an increase in “multi-party” commercial partnerships.  This might be seen as an increased complexity level for the profession to manage, but I think it would, in fact, drive simplicity and a true focus on relationship management.

If you could offer your younger self two pieces of advice, what would they be?

Have the confidence to give things a go and find ways to help reduce the fear of failure. My confidence has grown as I have gained experience. However, early ison in my career I know this was something I struggled with which can hold you back at times. Be courageous and step into “risky” situations or opportunities as it can be highly valuable.

At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive in the procurement profession. This is why we are launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women in Procurement. Join the conversation here.

Nobody Said Procurement Was Easy

Are you ever tempted to give up on your career aspirations at the first hurdle? Tania Seary explains why you’ll thank yourself in the long run for sticking it out!

We recently launched Bravo – a Procurious Group addressing gender disparity in the workplace through the celebration of women.

As part of Bravo, Procurious will be asking a number of high profile procurement leaders their advice to other women in Procurement, and how we can help them to get ahead in their careers.

We’re kicking things off with our founder Tania Seary. Tania is the Founding Chairman of three companies specialising in the development of the procurement profession – Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. In this interview, Tania shares her thoughts on what makes a great leader, how we can motivate more people to join the procurement profession and her advice to the next generation of rising stars.

How can procurement motivate more women to join the profession (and stay with it!)?

A career in Procurement offers fantastic and diverse opportunities, which are not always readily, or well, conveyed to budding young professionals.

In my opinion, the function could be doing a lot more to engage with universities, both to encourage the development of the curriculum and to educate undergrads about what constitutes a career in procurement. Several global companies have integrated procurement rotations into their graduate schemes and I would love to see more organisations following suit. Not only has this proven successful in terms of recruiting the hottest new talent but it also gives the business as a whole the chance to see what valuable and interesting work procurement is doing.

Finally, as always, I would encourage and urge procurement professionals to share, share, share! Become an advocate for procurement by sharing your stories, experiences and insights to encourage the best talent, both male and female, to join our profession.

What tips/advice would you give to Procurement rising stars?

Stick it out!

One of life’s greatest achievements is making it across the finish line to collect the medal, or at least the participation award!  In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to give up at the first hurdle and pull out of the race. By abandoning your plans you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Those who are ambitious, push through in tougher times, keep working hard and are able to bounce back onto the career track after a knock back are the ones who go on to the greatest successes.

Of course, this can be easier said than done, especially when it comes to juggling family and working life. Women are under so much more pressure to balance the two and it’s this that I believe explains the gender disparity at the top of organisations.

What has been your most rewarding experience and greatest accomplishment to date?

Being a full time working woman and a mother presents a whole host of logistical and emotional challenges. It’s even harder without a strong support network. I’ve been so fortunate to have had some inspiring female mentors and colleagues who supported me through the early stages of my career and when I was setting up my own businesses

It’s extremely rewarding to now be in the position to pass on some of the things I’ve learnt. I’m always keen to mentor, inspire and, of course, employ fantastic women in procurement!

My three companies (The Source, The Faculty and Procurious) have helped to connect thousands of procurement pros. It’s exciting to see how Procurious has helped to shape the careers of procurement professionals globally and in so many different ways.

What 3 attributes make a great leader?

1) Accountability – The best leaders will take full responsibility for their mistakes as well as their successes. They can look in the mirror, own their decisions, embrace the outcomes and be proud of what they see.

2) Vision – This is what separates leaders from managers. A manager simply does the job they are tasked with. A true leader has vision and, as such, a passion (that they can hopefully make contagious) for what they are trying to achieve.

3) Empathy – Understanding the motivators, drivers and feelings of those around you is so important when it comes to unlocking the power of the people in your organisation. Solid, working relationships make the world, and business go around.

Why is procurement the perfect career for you?

As someone who get bored easily, the variety of possibilities within procurement was initially a big drawcard. I love to continuously learn, problem solve and bring people together.  Procurement has allowed me to do all three of these things on a global scale.  

What are three pivotal things that have brought you to where you are today?

Working hard, never giving up and continually learning.  There’s always a lot of discussion surrounding the first two points but I’d really like to stress just how important it is to keep learning, no matter what stage you have reached in your career.  We’ve made eLearning a huge part of Procurious and in the work we do in my other companies so it is easy for procurement pros to learn quickly, any time and on the go!

Take every opportunity you can to learn from your colleagues, managers and even your employees. Make sure you work for “learning” organisations that are likely to support your ongoing career development.

At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive in the procurement profession. This is why we are launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women in Procurement. Join the conversation here.

Women in Procurement – An International Survey

Gender imbalance in business is clear to see. But, in procurement, how do professional associations stack up in terms of percentage of women members? 

Procurious recently launched Bravo: Celebrating Women in Procurement. Join the discussion here.

It’s well documented that females represent less than 5 per cent of CEO positions in S&P-500 companies, but organisation with greater diversity have enhanced business results.

Less described is the status of female participation across the procurement profession. So I decided to explore this using data from international Purchasing Associations (PAs).

Feedback from 22 PAs having a subscription base of around 230,000 members was received. I found that, on average, women accounted for 41 per cent of the membership base. However, the figure is skewed because the largest association is close to 50 per cent.

In reality, the majority of the other associations are in the 20-35 per cent female membership range. This also makes them a long way from gender parity.

PAs also reported that typically only 30 per cent of females attend their conferences and events, and that, correspondingly, a little under 20 per cent of women present at them.

There are also considerable differences between the national PA’s on how they are currently addressing the topic. Barring a few exceptions, most of them having no active forums.

Recent Procurement Studies

Various aspects of this topic have been outlined via a variety of different media. The most notable ones include:

Nonetheless, so far gender participation from a PA perspective has not been explored.

Methodology

Over 30 national PA’s were approached for their participation in a “Women in Procurement” survey. The following 22 replied: Australia, Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA and Vietnam.

The PA’s were sent a survey that had a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions.

Women in Procurement – The Findings

The percentage of female members from the individual PA’s has been clustered and summarised into four groups. Of the 22 respondents 21 of them provided relevant data.

This identifies that the majority of the PA’s have considerable opportunity to approach membership gender parity:

The consultancy named “Catalyst” reports gender participation at different organisational levels in a pyramidal format. Unfortunately, despite trying to explore role level with the PA’s, they did not have enough data to be able to compose any related trends.

One exception, CIPS, the UK purchasing association, has a variety of member levels, differentiated by certification. The highest, most senior level (called Fellows) had 17 per cent women (despite being a cluster 4 PA).

Nonetheless, an interesting trend was noted in the decreasing differences between percentage membership, percentage event attendance, and percentage speaker/presenters.

For the PA’s as a composite group the trend was 40 per cent, 30 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. Not quite the pyramid, but certainly a trend with procurement women having decreasing visibility.

Furthermore, it does beg the question why is there a decreasing participation, and, what can PA’s do to achieve enhanced parity?

Maintaining Highest Level of Inclusion

Despite being informed by the MD of one PA that they “simply weren’t interested in this topic”, the survey research has been able to collate snapshots from different global PA’s and related associations addressing the Women in Procurement opportunity.

This includes:

  • CIPS-MENA (Middle East and North Africa) branch hosted a “Women in Procurement in Saudi” in May 2016. It is the first of its sort in the Middle East.
  • Procurement Leaders have launched in September 2016 an interesting microsite.

When talent compares a prospective career in Procurement with Finance, Marketing, Sales, IT, etc., our track record as a profession might be a problem. And it is hardly enough just to be aware of the issue.

Procurement Associations have an obligation, not only to their members, but to the organisations and communities that engage them, to maintain the highest possible standards and society inclusion.

Enhancing the Profession

What should Procurement Associations do to enhance the attractiveness of the profession…?

On 5th October 2016, CIPS-Switzerland held a “Women in Procurement” evening event. Over 80 participants enjoyed presentations from three great speakers. We now have plans to start a CIPS-Switzerland WiP forum.

The first letter of the word inclusion is “I” – what can “I” be doing about a topic of interest or an arena that needs addressing? It’s your turn now…!

John Everett is the CIPS-Switzerland branch chairperson as well as the EMEAI regional purchasing director for The Dow Chemical Company. His 30-year career spans product innovation, business development, procurement and business services leadership.