Young, Female & Stuck in a 1950s Procurement Department

It’s the 21st century, so why, as a female, do so many procurement departments feel like they’re stuck in the 1950s?

female 1950s procurement

It’s a news story that never gets old: women are still paid less on average than men.

Procurement is a profession that continues to perform poorly compared to other industries. CIPS research has found that there is a 21 per cent gender salary gap for private sector advanced professionals. In real terms, this means that women receive £12.7k less per year at this level.

POOL4TOOL’s partner, Kloepfel Consulting also performed research on the Procurement market. It’s findings were almost identical.

This is the 21st century – shouldn’t things be different?

Workplace culture

Part of the problem is cultural. Biases that underestimate the economic power of women remain, even in relatively progressive countries. Some workplaces still have an inflexible culture that is resistant to change. These are often the kinds of workplaces that suffer from subconscious discrimination against women.

This is even true of workplaces where women are well-represented. This puts women and minorities at a disadvantage. It also suppresses new ideas, innovation and necessary change.

Young, female, ambitious

But this is not an employer Boot Camp – this is the Procurious Career Boot Camp! So what can a young female professional do if they find themselves in an environment that is still mired in the 1950s?

Before I landed in my current role, I spent my 20s in a series of different work environments. I’ve also had my fair share of horrendous career advice over the years.

So here are my top three career tips from a decade of being young, female and ambitious in the workplace.

1)    Don’t be afraid to be different

There is a time to learn the ropes, and there is a time to do things differently. While there is pressure to behave the same as more established employees, you will stand out for the things that only you can do. This also represents added value for your employee.

Procurement is an important interface between company departments and suppliers. Being yourself and thinking independently is a key strength in managing relationships.

Put it this way – nobody ever got into a leadership position by being like everyone else. Whether leading from the front as a manager or leading from the back in another role, leadership requires the courage to be different.

2) Capitalise on low-value projects

At the start of your career, sometimes you have to live with low-value projects. This can be frustrating, especially when you see colleagues with glamorous assignments.

However, low-priority projects are great precisely because others are often not interested in them. This is an advantage because it gives you a lot of free reign to make a project your own and turn it into a success.

It is tempting to hold back from making low-value projects successful. The fear is that you will get even more low-value projects. But this could result in no success at all. It also gives your employer no way to measure your abilities.

Some employers do give low-value projects to successful employees ad infinitum. Those are the ones that need to change their staff development policies!

3) Accept that you will be a different person in 6 months

If you’re anything like many talented people, you may not believe in your own abilities. There are a lot of bright people who think that they are not competent or experienced enough.

But young professionals have a great capacity for high learning curves. They can also quickly pick up competences from their environment.

If you can’t do something now, in 6 months’ time, you could already have the confidence and the ability to perform that task.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp is a great place to exchange thoughts and experiences. Do you agree with my three tips? What have been your experiences? What are your tips?