Are our supply chains tunnel-visioned, or do they support a diverse range of ethnic minorities, women, military veterans, people with disability, or ex-offenders trying to build a new life?
A few months ago, Beyoncé dropped a surprise new single. Hang on, what’s that got to do with Procurement with Purpose (PwP), I hear you say?
Well, apart from the fact the sing is really rather good, Black Parade is linked to her wider initiatives around charitable work (through her BeyGood initiative), black empowerment and consciousness. Revenue from the track is being used to benefit BeyGood’s Black Business Impact Fund – administered by the National Urban League – to support black-owned small businesses in need.
She has also launched a directory of black-owned businesses ranging from art & design, restaurants, beauty products, lifestyle, wellness, bookstores and more. It’s a fairly basic site, and pretty much all the firms listed there appear to be B2C (consumer focused) rather than B2B. But her move may raise more questions about how organisations approach their corporate buying, in particular when it comes to minority-owned businesses that could be used as suppliers. Recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement have made many of us think about racism and bias in our lives, and that applies in the supply chain as much as it does anywhere. So, that takes us back to procurement with purpose.
Diversity (broadly speaking now) in the supply chain is actually one of the most fascinating topics within the whole PwP world. For a start, there are any different types of diversity. Should you buy more from firms owned by people from black and other ethnic groups? What about female-owned businesses? Or those owned by folks with disabilities or health issues – or maybe those firms that employ such people? What about firms that are owned by support military veterans, or ex-offenders trying to build a new life?
Or maybe it’s not the ownership that matters. What about SMEs (smaller firms)? Some would suggest that those businesses drive successful economies and by supporting them at an early stage, buyers can capture innovation and also promote wider social and economic benefits. Others, particularly in the public sector, look to support local business, on the grounds that this will keep the money flowing in the local economy rather than being sucked up to some distant head office.
All these options mean it can be hard to know where to start. But in many countries, it is clear that minority-owned businesses in particular do have a tough time as they have to overcome all the usual hurdles faced by start-ups anywhere, plus they face the bias (conscious or unconscious) that does exist.
We’re not going to solve that problem in one article today, but as well as highlighting that this may develop into a high-profile issue, a few suggestions for now.
· Firstly, take a look at how easy it is for any new or small firm to become a supplier to you. How can they put themselves forward? Are your supplier qualification and selection processes designed for huge firms, rather than start-ups? Do you put accidental barriers in the way, demanding onerous contract terms, expensive insurance and so on? Too many large firms are virtually impossible to break into, which is not good for the agility and dynamism of their supply base, never mind the difficulty for minority-owned suppliers.
· Secondly, if you haven’t looked at these issues, seek out organisations that can help you work out an approach. MSDUK has done good work in the UK to promote minority owned businesses, WEConnect International does the same with female owned enterprises, and there are others covering different groups and issues and across different countries. The good news is that large organisations don’t have to move very much of their spend into supporting these causes to really make a difference.
· Thirdly, there are some good case studies around. Accenture has been one of the leaders in this area with their supplier inclusion and diversity programme, and there are others who have made strides in this field.
· And finally, how about Beyoncé for US Vice-President?
This article was originally published by Procurement With Purpose on 20 June 2020 and is republished here with permission.
Collaboration is imperative for your organisation to progress! And it can be achieved through “silo busting” (encouraging inter-departmental sharing of knowledge), building and valuing trust, attenuating body language to communicate openness, promoting diversity, cultivating self-awareness and fostering empathy, and creating a safe environment for sharing ideas and practices.
Collaboration is more important than ever before. In fact, an organisation’s survival may depend on how well it can combine the potential of its people as well as its suppliers. By connecting the external market with their own organisation and its customers, Procurement has the opportunity to facilitate and deliver significant shared value. Collaboration matters like never before.
I’ve read many surveys on leadership and collaboration, particularly of recency. Deloitte’s Future of Work research found that 65% of the C-Level executives surveyed have a strategic objective to transform their organisation’s culture, with a focus on connectivity, communication and collaboration.
When one gets underneath the surface of these surveys, six crucial leadership behavioural themes leap out. I’m referring to leadership at all levels, call it strategic leadership if you so choose. Whether you’re the Chief Procurement Officer, the Head of Category Management or the Buyer, when you think about building and embracing a collaborative culture, you already realise that your job has changed. I really don’t think and hope you’ll ever look back. So, this is absolutely not about old-school leadership and hierarchical thinking. This is also not a new leadership philosophy. This is about embracing the fact that we are better together. A single, collaborative eco-system. To make the impact required and to inspire others, requires collaborative leadership. It’s about self-awareness and its about emotional intelligence too.
Here are the six leadership behaviours:
1. Silo ‘busting’
I really struggle with the word ‘silo’. It is why wastebaskets were created. Silo’s are sizeable organisational blockers, built to last by those whom create them. The collaborative environment we seek is kept from forming. The creativity, innovation and growth potential is essentially being silo distanced. ‘Silo’ is a term that has been passed around and discussed in boardrooms for at least 30 years. They remain a growing pain in the organisational backside.
Silo mentality describes the mindset present when departments don’t share information. Wherever it’s spotted, silo mentality becomes synonymous with power struggles and fear of exposure or failure. Silo mentality cause organisations to waste time, resources and money. They wreck collaboration.
Silos get busted by leaders, not by technology or processes. Procurement has privileged access to typically all parts of an organisation and its supplier base too. Get on the front foot and create unifying goals and objectives. Build ‘silo-busting’ into your balance scorecard and set the pace for collaboration, both internally and externally.
2. Trust matters
A collaborative team isn’t a group of people working together. It’s a group of people working together who trust each other. They also understand their own and each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Trust is the key binding agent for collaboration. It is where procurement and the supplier base can also unite, like never before.
As a leader, you need people to trust you. But how do you show that you trust them? The way sharing of information is communicated determines whether it becomes an obstacle to or an enabler of collaboration. Perhaps a cynical view, though some leaders I have observed who profess to value collaboration, undermine their effectiveness by withholding information or sharing it on a ‘needs to know’ basis. This makes them feel important.
Leaders build trust through honest, consistent and transparent communication – easy to say, often trickier in reality than it sounds. Procurement leaders take note. Put the ego to one side and build trust with your colleagues, customers and suppliers. It’s hard work and unanswerably essential to achieve true collaboration leadership. What one finds is that when you take the time to get to know your colleagues and suppliers, trust builds faster. Embrace all feedback, not just positive, and always have your learning and listening chips switched on. Build joint goals. Create the time to celebrate successes. Adapt, learn and grow, together.
3. Body language tells its own story
Negotiators are taught how to assess body language. Not just negotiators I hasten to add. In its most simplistic form, there are two sets of body language. One set that projects sincerity, authenticity and warmth. The other send signals of status and influence. For collaboration to flourish, focus your energy on the former. Authenticity is key. Be yourself.
4. Promoting diversity
Diverse thinking is an essential ingredient for collaborative leadership. It reinforces my point about leadership at al levels. Team members at the same level, and with a similar background, are found to perform worse than those with varying skills and knowledge. There’s a tendency for similarly minded individuals at the same level in an organisation to seek affirmation from one another i.e. they tend to reinforce each others predisposition. Innovation is triggered by cross-functional working. Creative breakthroughs occur most often when ideas collide and then combine. Collaboration enables innovation.
Development Dimensions International (DDI) has studied leadership for almost fifty years. In their latest research, with over 15,000 leaders from more than 300 organisations, DDI looked at leaders’ conversational skills that had the highest impact on overall performance. At the very top of the list was empathy – specifically, the ability to listen and respond empathetically. Learn to understand before be understood. So, for great collaborative leadership, if you recognise this as a development need, then work hard on developing it.
6. Primal instincts
Human beings have two primitive instincts that guide a willingness to collaborate — or not — and they are triggered under very different circumstance. The first instinct is to hoard and has been traced back to early humans hoarding vital supplies, like food, out of fear of not having enough. The more they put away, the safer they felt. We’ve all observed this instinct and many experienced it of recency. In the workplace, when people feel ignored or threatened, they retreat and hold on to knowledge. The second instinct, on the other hand, is that humans are also a learning, teaching, knowledge-sharing species. According to evolutional psychologists, this trait is also hard-wired, linking back to when humans first started gathering in clans. Leaders trigger the ‘sharing instinct’ when they create psychologically safe workplace environments in which people feel secure, valued and trusted.
In a world of arguably unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, collaborative leadership behaviours are so important to organisation survival, recovery and growth. Collaboration as a skill set is no longer a ‘nice to have’. There are tools and techniques to help develop your collaborative skill set further, whether you are a buyer or seller. Successful supplier and procurement collaboration will make a transformational difference.
This article was originally published by Procurement Potentialon July 12 2020 and is republished here with permission.
The business case for diversity is clear – diverse teams and leaders are more innovative, collaborative, successful and profitable. But when it comes to diversity in leadership, we’re not where we need to be. How do we get there?
Procurement as a profession has proven our ability to change, to adapt and to thrive. From order takers, to expediters, to deal and market makers, we have proven we know how to make the most of an opportunity to create value, and we’ve been able to do so in ways never done before.
Yet to realise the true potential of our profession, there’s one thing I know we need to achieve that we haven’t as yet, and that is: gender equality in leadership.
Across the board, procurement performs above average from a gender perspective. A recent survey from our recruitment partners, The Source, revealed that 38% of leaders and managers in procurement are female (compared to the 30% average across all professions). This is a great start, but we’re still losing too many women along the way – when you look at entry statistics, 48% of procurement graduates are female.
If we’re doing well, then, why do better? Better diversity can help us better manage complexity and enhance profitability, as I’ll explain below. And in good news, there are (at least) five things you can do right now to help your team get there.
Why is increased diversity particularly important for procurement?
As Deloitte pointed out in their 2019 Chief Procurement Officer report, CPOs (and increasingly, all of us in procurement) have to be “complexity masters” to excel at work. As we know all too well, complexity is now coming in all shapes and sizes, including trade wars, climate change and new regulations (external complexities), stakeholder alignment (internal complexity), people, organisational models and business plans (talent complexity) and finally, digital disruption. Managing one aspect of this is challenging enough; managing all can feel overwhelming.
But greater diversity can help us do it all. Firstly, with diversity comes multiple perspectives and enhanced innovation, which will help us identify multiple solutions to solve the complex problems we face.
Diversity also helps us with everything inside our own four walls. The more diverse we are, the more likely we’ll represent the interests of those we serve, including our organisation’s customers – who are ultimately our customers. And not only do we represent our customers and stakeholders, we also better represent our own staff when we’re diverse, as we’re better able to understand them and make decisions that enhance their wellbeing.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, given the expectation of strategic business partnering from procurement, diverse teams have been shown to be up to 35% more profitable. With procurement functions now often required to do more with less, diversity can be a key driver in increasing our value-add and securing resources to innovate and grow.
How to increase diversity in leadership in procurement
The challenges faced in retaining women in leadership in procurement echo those of wider society: inequality with paternity leave, unconscious bias and a lack of flexibility. But there’s so much we can do to counteract these, even on an individual level, and you don’t need to wait for society or even your organisation to catch up. If you want to reap the benefits of greater diversity in your team, try the following:
1. Give (public) praise
In order to reach a position of influence, you have to be noticed. And unfortunately, sometimes being noticed can be as much about announcing what you’re done as it can be about the actual achievement in the first place.
This can be particularly problematic for women, whom research shows can be punished for advocating for themselves. To counteract this, try giving public praise to women you believe deserve to get noticed. Whether it be on Procurious, LinkedIn, in a meeting or in front of an influential executive, giving praise can help someone be recognised and hopefully promoted.
Although this is a stereotype, there’s never any harm doing what you can to prevent it. So if you know a talented female and there’s a role going, why not encourage her to have a go?
3. Mentor and sponsor
Whether or not you’ve got diversity as an official target or KPI in your team, as a leader, you’re no doubt responsible for performance. Knowing that, it’s important that you mentor and sponsor other more junior procurement professionals – especially females.
Your mentoring can be any arrangement that suits you and the mentoree – you may want to meet regularly but informally or alternatively, you might put a more formal development plan in place. If you choose to be a ‘sponsor,’ though, you should be more active – as a sponsor, your responsibility is to specifically advocate for the person you’re working with in the hope of securing them a promotion (like giving public praise, but with a very specific end goal in mind!).
If you want to increase your impact, you could even mentor someone outside of your organisation. Procurious and The Faculty run mentoring programs in both the UK and Australia, get in touch if you’re interested.
4. Role model flexibility – regardless of your situation
If you’ve ever been in any type of leadership role, you’ll know that you can influence your people as much (or more) with your actions than with your words. One of the most important ways to influence your people is to show you trust them through giving them flexibility.
But if you’re in a position of influence, you can change this. No matter what your situation – mother, father, or non-parent, if you lead by example by both working flexibly and allowing it, you’ll help remove the stigma and as a result, help create better diversity.
5. Campaign for equal rights and equal opportunities
Although unconscious bias is still an issue, one of the biggest reasons that there are less women in leadership roles in organisations is that they have career breaks that their male counterparts may not have, by way of maternity leave(s).
But if you’re in a position of influence, you can change this by giving fathers a much sought-after opportunity to be at home. Numerous big companies have all recently removed the terms ‘primary and secondary carer’ and instead offered equal leave to all new parents. Why not advocate for this at your organisation?
In our profession, a lot can change in a year. So why not make this year the year we all rally together and create a change we can be proud of? Our profession is complex, but helping more women into leadership doesn’t need to be. Diversity benefits us all, so let’s all do what we can to help propel more women into leadership.
Tania Seary is the founder of Procurious and a passionate advocate for gender equality. If you’re interested to learn more about how to help women in leadership, tune in to our podcast ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Your Path to the Top’ webinar on January 23rd, 2:30pm BST. Register for it here.
You can’t be what you can’t see has become a catch cry for the lack of visibility of women in leadership roles.
It’s a bit of a Catch-22. To be prepared to
be visible, to feel authentic and to advance your career is so much easier when
you can follow women who’ve already blazed the trail. It’s so much easier to
follow a path that someone has created than to forge your own. And what a hard
slog if everyone is doing that!
To make your own path easier, find role models
that you can emulate, help others find role models that they can follow, and
this will increase your opportunity to be visible.
You can’t be what you can’t see
You can’t be what you can’t see has become
a catch cry for the lack of visibility of women in leadership roles.
When there are no female role models,
women’s belief in their suitability for leadership reduces.
‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ The unavailability of female role models constrains
the choices women make about their careers.
This has a significant impact on available
talent. Girls are discouraged from pursuing careers that seem ‘male’. Women do not choose to pursue career
opportunities in male-dominated areas.
This also limits organisations’ talent pools and pipelines. It compromises long-term future talent supplies across industries. It is strikingly evident in male-dominated professions, like engineering.
Why role models are so critical
Implicit self-beliefs are not simply
private thoughts that remain confined to the mind. Rather, they impact
intentions and goals. They encourage, or hinder, future professional success.
At entry to tertiary studies, and again at
exit, young women agree that women-as-a-group are as suited to leadership roles
as men. They express their own personal ambition to be leaders.
However, their unconscious beliefs about
women as leaders, and their own leadership potential, do change. Without the
right kind of interactions with role models, young women’s implicit
When all or most of their professors are
male, their unconscious self-beliefs erode. They come to believe that women are
better suited for support roles.
When women directly engage with successful
female professors their unconscious self-beliefs improve. Frequent contact
helps the association ‘woman = leader’ strengthen. However, only when contact
is evaluated as meaningful do self-beliefs change: ‘I can be a leader’. A sense of similarity with role models is
created by a meaningful, quality connection. Women’s leadership ambitions
increase significantly when they engage with such role models.
This same pattern
continues as women
engage in the workforce. Women are less likely to pursue leadership roles or
roles in masculine domains.
Young women are unaware of their implicit beliefs
They believe that the way they see
themselves and their career choices are down to their own motivation, talent
and interests. Instead, context powerfully drives their choices.
A senior leader described her daughter’s reduced
ambition as like the erosion caused by acid rain. She started her career as a
confident, ambitious young woman. She was clear about who she was and what she
wanted. Over time, she had given up career goals and her dreams of success. A
drop at a time, and devastating over time, her interest in her career was being
eroded. She was shaping herself in line with expectations about what women
should be like at work. Not confident. Not ambitious.
The ingredients that best predict
improvement in implicit leadership self-beliefs are:
Knowing that other women have
achieved success in leadership or male-dominated domains, together with
The experience of personally
connecting with those women.
Who are your role models? Fabulous,
successful female leaders that you would aspire to be like. If you don’t have
three or four that you see personally, or feel strongly connected to, get to
work and find them!
Leverage the role model effect
Increasing the number of women in key roles
increases the availability of role models. It increases identification
with leadership roles and helps grow future supply. A diversity of role models
expands the leadership profile, and boosts innovation.
Supportive alliances to form
between women, increasing their retention;
Recognition of women for their
individual talents, rather than for stereotypical attributes; and
Improved dynamics and culture
of the larger leadership cohort.
The mere presence of women in small or
‘token’ numbers is not
enough. It has been assumed that an initial appointment of one woman would
lead to a flow of female appointments.
Instead, hiring more women often stalls.
A 20 year study of US Fortune 1000 companies found that hiring one top female
executive did not lead to a second.
To achieve a critical mass of women in
leadership, hiring patterns need to shift. A powerful way for that to happen is
by male leaders advocating for gender-balanced leadership.
If you are in the hiring game, make sure
that you are removing all the bias you can from your process, including at the
initial stage – make sure your work climate is inclusive and welcoming.
Harness the power of male advocacy
CEO advocacy is the primary driver of a
rapid achievement of critical mass. Advocating pro-diversity views promotes
acceptance of diversity and helps to realise its benefits. Advocacy by
influential figures is persuasive.
It can change unconscious attitudes. As CEOs and senior leaders are mostly men,
their role as advocates is key.
ways that men can champion gender equality are by:
Being credible, trustworthy
supporters of gender-balanced leadership,
Delivering clear messages about
gender balance and their commitment to it,
Using persuasive power to
change the minds of peers, and
Working collegiately with
The way in which senior men include women,
model openness to difference and challenge exclusionary behaviour by others
creates a new example and new model for behaviour. Who are the senior men that
you can encourage to be more visible in their advocacy?
Because it is still uncommon to hear men
advocate in this way, when they do, it stimulates a mental double take. It
challenges unconscious thinking.
Engaging senior men as advocates is also a
positive way to tap into their desire to look good to others. The male
champions of change program does this very effectively.
How many male advocates do you have in your
network? What might you do to nurture one more? Maybe you are a male advocate
for inclusion and innovation? What can you do to persuade those around you to
join you as an advocate?
Align yourself with this year’s IWD theme
of #balanceforbetter. Time for a reset in our thinking. Let’s work on both
women’s visibility as leaders, and on men’s visibility as champions
for balanced leadership. You can’t be what you can’t see will be an even more
powerful catch cry when used to encourage men to add their voices as advocates.
Make advocacy visible!
Be visible, feel authentic and advance your career
Set your sights on making it to a senior
level role, or help those around you to do so. Increase your confidence in your
own leadership identity, by identifying specific role models. Role models help
increase feelings of self-efficacy in leadership, the development of your
identity as a leader, and increase your positive feelings about being a leader.
Creating a strong, confident story-line that is congruent with your own values, and having a presence that holds attention, are critical to succeeding in leadership roles, and work on these will help you to advance your career.
Get involved with International Women’s Day 2019
At Procurious we want women in procurement and supply chain management across the globe, and from every walk of life, to be the best that they can be and reach the highest of career heights.
But it’s hard to dream big and aim high without a little leading light to show you the way.
That’s why, on this International Women’s Day, we’re campaigning to improve the visibility of women in procurement and supply chain management. We want to showcase some of the amazing things women are achieving for the professions and inspire you to do it too!
1.Sign up to join the Bravo group on Procurious 2. Download your very own you can’t be what you can’t see poster from the documents tab in the group 3. Print out the poster and snap a shot of yourself 4. Share the photo via the Bravo group on Procurious 5. Share the photo on Twitter, tagging @Procurious_ and #IWD2019 #BravoWomen and LinkedIn. In your post, nominate a woman in procurement who inspires you and ask her to take part too!
The recent Gillette ad caused a massive response for a 1:47 minute film. Is it the close shave we had to have, or one that’s just too close for comfort?
The ad actively highlights the importance of rejecting toxic behaviour, showing men intervening when others are harassed or bullied, and helping to protect children from the same behaviour. Promoting civility, care and protection can’t be bad. Can it?
with the #metoo movement may be enough to raise the
red flag to some. But even, so, just why is the ad’s message so controversial? Gillette’s
strapline change from ‘the best a man can get’ to ‘the best a man can be’ seems
nothing short of genius. Why is it not universally inspiring?
diversity initiatives are now well known to backfire and cause backlash. Any
attempt to change people’s attitudes and beliefs will almost certainly do this.
The history of Civil Rights in the US is an unfortunately good example.
this initiative does or doesn’t result in unintended negative consequences for
Gillette, there are lessons that can be learned from the response. At the heart
of the contention is the portrayal of the toxicity of hyper-masculine cultures.
Show no weakness – don’t admit you don’t
know, don’t express doubt;
Show strength and stamina – stronger, longer, and
bigger are better;
Put work first – work hard, don’t let
‘Dog eat dog’ – watch your back, you’re
in or out.
These characteristics are traditionally associated with men’s work,
and with leadership. They are prevalent in many industries and occupations, not
just dangerous or physical strength-related ones, such as the military or
emergency services. They also characterise engineering, construction, and white
collar industries like finance, procurement and law. Many mainstream
organisations conflate the demonstration of masculine traits with effective
It’s not the characteristics themselves that are the problem. And it isn’t men either.
The problem with these characteristics is when they are the majority
characteristics of an organisation’s culture.
An interesting feature of
masculinity is that it isn’t ever settled, it always needs to be contested. The
problem is not in the behaviour of individual men, but in workplace cultures
that reward survival-of-the-fittest and dog-eat-dog competitiveness.
The expectations are neither
inevitable nor are they universal. The nature of teams, the structure of work
and the core tasks associated with specific occupations all moderate how
cultures form and are experienced in male-dominated occupations. For example, where
firefighting crews were encouraged to express
camaraderie and work with good humour, they were much less likely to engage in
high risk behaviour. They were faster to coordinate, had fewer accidents, and
caused less property damage.
In one study of leadership climate, 56 per cent of people considered that the managers
they interact with every day displayed toxic leadership to some degree. Masculine contest
cultures are less inclusive, and there is a lower level of psychological
safety. Higher employee stress, work-life conflict and turnover intentions
result. Organisational commitment is low, as is wellbeing. The more toxic the
culture, the worse performance becomes over time.
When men who strongly identify with masculine characteristics
experience threats to their superiority, they also tend to reduce support for
gender equality. If they see programs for gender equality (such as this ad) as
a zero-sum game, ie, any
gains to be made by women will be losses to them, they withdraw their interest,
don’t get involved, or oppose the programs.
Moves towards equal pay, for example, are seen as reducing
opportunities for men and placing downward pressure on men’s pay. In a contest
culture where men are competing against other men, women’s access into the
competition is seen as disrupting the advantage that men have. Attempts to increase the representation of
women will be difficult.
It is when men who identify strongly with masculine characteristics perceive
threats to their masculinity that they are more
likely to sexually harass others. And they may harass either female or male
Where men believe that gender roles are fixed, they tend to
rationalise the social system. They are more likely to justify the system and its
inequities. On the other hand, where men are primed to see gender roles as
socially ascribed, their identification with ‘male’ decreases as does their
defence of gender inequities. Their views align more with women’s.
A real part of the problem for change is that working in a masculine
culture is associated with greater
work engagement and job meaning for some
men. Some men find the prospect of winning masculine status so seductive that
they will sacrifice their wellbeing for opportunities to be in the contest.
Finally, a major challenge is that those
organisations that need training the most are the least likely to benefit from
it. Organisations that promote masculinity context cultures won’t change
through traditional diversity and sexual harassment training. In such cultures,
conventional approaches have not been effective and in some cases have backfired.
Diversity and sexual harassment training is only effective in those
organisations that support its purpose and content.
When there is misalignment, when training is done to meet external reporting or
is tokenistic, training is at best a waste of time.
highlight some of the reasons behind the strong, negative reactions to the
If you are someone who sees the Gillette ad as a breath of fresh air,
and you want to reduce the degree of masculine contest in your culture, keep these
three key things in focus:
Let people control
their own solutions to inequities, by engaging them in the problem, make sure
they are volunteers, and use curiosity as a key hook. This makes it rewarding
and connection between under-represented groups, and ensure they work together
as this minimises status differences and focuses on work and learning;
transparent, and make people accountable for their actions, which taps into
their desire to look good to others
By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works…
In today’s workforce, diversity has become a buzzword, with organisations increasingly communicating its importance through their advertising and core business values.
But what does diversity mean, why is it important, how do you achieve it and, once you have it, what do you do with it?
Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead explains that there is an enormous pressure for organisations to hire people that are different. But alongside that moral pressure to ‘do the right thing’ is a very strong business case. “A UK report revealed that the British economy could be boosted by as much as £24 billion if black and minority talent was fully utilised . When you have a diversified workforce you have a broader [talent pool] who are able to bring different ways of working, different ways of dealing with issues and can provide greater innovation.”
Putting the ‘I’ in D & I
As Joelle points out, there is no point in building a diverse workforce if it is not nurtured into being an inclusive one. “To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce it’s vital to have an inclusive environment where everyone is treated equally, feels welcome to participate and can achieve their potential”
Diversity = The What
A mix of diverse types of people
Inclusion = The How
The strategies and behaviours that welcome, embrace and create value from diversity
“What is really at stake is not diversity, but inclusion. How do you make sure your diverse workforce will generate the expected benefits – that increased profitability – no matter who they are. You cannot simply integrate a human being [to the workforce] because they come with their own character and uniqueness.
“How do you ensure [everyone is able to] give their best to the company?”
Let People Be Themselves: It is the employer’s role to ensure that all employees, no matter their specific characteristics, can be themselves. “In the corporate world we all have to fit in but fitting in doesn’t mean you forget who you are.”
Equity – The entire employee base should be given equal chances whether that’s an equal chance to be promoted, equal pay or other opportunities within the organisation.
Intersectionality – A black man, who is a wheelchair user and identifies as gay might endure multiple forms of discrimination at the same time. To better include this person it doesn’t make sense to only address one of these factors – you can’t foster an inclusive environment without addressing everything. D & I teams often isolate their efforts on one particular minority group but the experience of a white woman might be very different to that of a black women, and that needs to be addressed when it comes to developing D & I strategies and policies.
Safe space – Employees should be encouraged to speak up about these issues without fear of retaliation. “Organisations must ensure their people management approaches don’t put any group at a disadvantage.”
“What I want people to take away is that diversity and inclusion (D & I) is not only for women or for people of different ethnicities or sexual orientation. It is for everybody. D & I , which is much more important than diversity, means that we need to provide each human being with equal treatment in the corporate world. By having an inclusive corporate environment for people we can make a change and improve the way society works.”
Joelle Payom, Global Strategic Sourcing & Vendor Management Lead
Procure with Purpose
Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.
Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Diversity and Inclusion.
Procurement professionals are in a unique position to step up and make a positive impact. Here are three areas where procurement professionals should direct their attention…
In an age when people want to work for companies who are doing good in the world, when consumers vote with their wallets and achieving supply chain transparency is easier than ever before there has never been more pressure for procurement professionals to commit to, and prioritise, making a difference in the world with the work that they do.
Tom Derry, CEO – ISM, discusses three areas where procurement professionals should direct their attention…
There was a time when sustainability was merely a PR strategy with minimal corporate effort put behind it. But those days are long gone and we’re at the tipping point where businesses can finally see the financial benefits of operating sustainability.
“I’m familiar with the CPO of a major food manufacturer here in the United States,” says Tom. “One day the Rainforest Action Network was protesting on their corporate campus. It came down to the sustainable sourcing of palm oils, which is a major food ingredient. What we’re realising now is our supply chains can create unexpected consequences. In this case, palm oil was being sourced from Indonesia, which incentivised local farmers to burn down the rainforests in order to plant palm trees. The food manufacturer was jeopardising the existence of this incredible biodiverse resource, without any sense of the consequence of sourcing palm oil to make their products.”
Tom also mentions the importance of catering to customer demands. “My own daughter makes her consumer purchase decisions based on how she views the sustainable practices of the companies. Companies have realised that if they lose that customer, consumers walk away and you never get that business back.”
But, according to Tom there’s another reason key you have to take sustainability seriously. “In the stock market, companies like JP Morgan are publishing reports on companies based on ESG – which stands for Environment, Sustainability and Governance. So it’s no longer just financial metrics that are driving stock prices. It’s your score on your environmental performance, how sustainable you are, and your governance around your sustainability strategy.
“When that starts to drive stock price, that gets everyone’s attention. Believe me!”
2. Modern slavery
With 21 to 46 million people in slavery around the world, procurement professionals have a huge responsibility in weeding it out of their supply chains?
As Tom points out, it’s a sobering statistic but companies are beginning to do amazing things. to tackle modern slavery. “Nestle, for example, investigated their own supply chain for fish used in pet food products and found that the Thai fishing flight was using impressed labour. They identified the problem and proactively went out to address it rather than waiting for someone else to discover it.”
This approach allows companies to avoid appearing defensive and reactive and Tom believes we’ll see more and more companies taking that kind of stance, “because they have to!
“It’s not just about protecting your company’s reputation, but it’s also a recognition that we all share as humans that it’s a morally reprehensible practice – and none of us want to be a part of it.”
3. Diversity and Inclusion
A third way procurement and supply chain professionals can make an impact in their organisations is to improve supplier and workplace diversity.
“We need to make sure our supply bases reflect the kinds of communities where we do business,” argues Tom. “We also need to make sure our teams, internally – and our leadership teams – reflect those communities too.”
“Diversity broadens our point of view. We become more sensitive to cultural issues.”
Remember the backlash last year when PepsiCo released an ad featuring Kendall Jenner that somewhat insensitvely echoed a Black Lives Matter protest? Criticised for trivialising and exploiting the movement the ad was soon removed but not without significant damage to the PepsiCo brand.
As Tom points out, “a diverse team will heighten your awareness to those issues before they get out into the public domain and embarrass you. You have a multitude of perspectives on how to solve problems.”
“ISM has got a long standing leadership position in this area . We’ve got a formal statement on the value of diversity to the profession we organise a conference and sponsor a certification to help people become leader of diversity efforts.”
Part 3 of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry talk on sustainability, modern slavery, and diversity.
Procurement leaders must create more opportunities to be open with the levels of the organisation below them and consistently request feedback… Talk less and ask more! “When you’re the CEO of a large organisation – or even a small one – your greatest responsibility is to recognise whether it requires a major change in direction. Indeed, no bold new course of action can be launched without your say-so. Yet your power and privilege leave you insulated – perhaps more than anyone else in the company – from information that might challenge your assumptions and allow you to perceive a looming threat or opportunity. Ironically, to do what your exalted position demands, you must in some way escape your exalted position.” – excerpt from Bursting the CEO Bubble, Hal Gregersen. Harvard Business Review, March – April 2017.
This passage stuck a chord with me and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly.
The majority of feedback given in organisations tends to flow in a downward direction; people in higher levels of an organisation are giving feedback to people in lower levels. People may be asked to provide feedback in the opposite direction – back to their superiors – but it is rarely given freely and without careful consideration.
I believe many people don’t give feedback to their superiors out of an instinct of fear. That is not to say they are scared of their managers, but more that there is a sense of uncertainly around how their feedback will be taken and any resulting consequences. The safer option tends to be to bite one’s tongue and keep quiet.
The impact of this behaviour is that people, or groups of people, can feel stressed or excluded, and ultimately become disengaged.
I also believe that many leaders don’t ask for feedback from lower levels of their organisation because their information “feeds” are so broad in our modern era.
CEOs have so many sources of information to consult and deal with that they are spending more and more of their time in a scanning mode rather than a deep analysis mode. Consequently, as their decision-making time is continually reduced they have to use their bias to make quicker decisions.
Important decisions in any organisation deserve careful consideration. Bias tends to work as an opposing force to this process. As the excerpt above suggests, and that I strongly agree with, our leaders must expand on their process of discovery. They must create more opportunity to be open with the levels of the organisation below them and consistently request feedback, particularly on their own performance. Not only will staff feel listened to and more engaged, but also this process will invite alternative perspectives – alternative ideas, alternative ways of thinking, and alternative cultural outlooks.
It is this diversity of thought – the diversity of their entire organisation – that should be informing our leaders’ decision making process.
Reluctant or unsure about driving greater diversity and inclusion in your procurement teams and the organisation at large? You need to take your blinkers off!
When it comes to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace it can be difficult to know where to begin.
And perhaps you’re equally skeptical that your actions could even have a significant impact?
But when we were joined last month by Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson; Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba and Darren Swift (Swifty), Inspirational Speaker, The Drive Project & Blesma Ambassador for our latest Procure-with-Purpose webinar all three speakers quickly put these doubts to rest…
People with learning differences
“Just 6 per cent of young people with a learning difficulty are actually in employment which is a burden on society and for individual and their family,” explained Timo.
“These people are often willing but unable to work because we don’t give them the chance to get a foot in the door. They can’t find work because they can’t find work experience. We are often unwilling as big corporations to accept their differences. But they can do the work and they can also be very loyal. The barrier to entry isn’t them, it’s us.”
The Drive Project’s Veterans Work report found that three in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience.
There are roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs.
“Individuals who are neurodiverse or on the autistic spectrum are underused source of talent with great skillsets that our leaders are seeking on their teams,” argues Julie. “There is a constant need for great talent and a unique point of view.”
Starting small is ok
“I have always been a huge advocate and proponent for diversity of thought,” explained Julie. “I’m one of nine children and so growing up I lived with lots of different opinions and personalities and thoughts and I saw the amazing environment that that created. And so I brought that with me to the workplace.
“I wanted to contribute to change. I volunteered to become the global exec sponsor for D and I at SAP Ariba. I started with a gender focus but it has evolved to become something much bigger and much broader.
“At SAP Ariba we think it’s ok to start small. It’s really ok. We started D and I [initiatives] with employees’ passions. [People who said] ‘this is what we’re passionate about.’ Welcoming and embracing personal passions into the professional workplace in a small way blossomed into bigger, more formalised programs and from there we built a D and I framework to drive a more inclusive workplace”
As Timo explains, measuring success isn’t just about measuring numbers. “It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and spend reports.” explained Timo. “[At Johnson & Johnson we are] trying to use story-telling and build business cases around the work we are doing. Talking about meaningful impact is a lot more powerful than just numbers.”
Take your blinkers off and crack on!
When it comes to getting started procurement teams simply need to “crack on and do it! I can promise you that you’ll find it hugely rewarding and enjoyable” asserted Timo. “I’m a firm advocate that [diversity and inclusion initiatives] change how procurement is viewed in the business and how we’re perceived.
“A social innovation agenda drives a completely different conversation with our business partners beyond that age-old savings conversation that we all get a bit bored of.
I really believe there is a massive untapped potential out there of many different groups that we don’t support as well as we should do. They can bring tremendous value and insights and different ways of doing things, often better than we can into our supply base. Get involved.”
Many years on and Swifty continues to live by this motto, championing individuality, pushing the boundaries of life as a double amputee and creating his own path.
“From my perspective I was lucky. I was surrounded by the right people. They were what I call “blinkers-off” people. They don’t wear blinkers. Or they’re prepared to take them off. They gave me the opp and had the right attitude to see some of the attrubutes that could be nurtured and untilised.
Broden your thinking. Take a punt on difference and diversity. Instead of always thinking you can’t ask why not, why wouldn’t we why shouldn’t, we let’s give it a go.
Unicorns are a mythical creature but they’re also a type of horse. Horses wear blinkers and they wear blinkers because it makes them go down a particular route, stops them from deviating stops them from thinking elsewhere and I quite like the idea of taking those off and having a wider vision.”
“What are the essential traits of future leader in procurement?” asked Julie.
“Is it this unicorn that ticks all the boxes. We intentionally seek a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience; different skill-sets. Because that drives innovation and that leads to great advancements.”
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.
Procurement is going to have to do some extra work when it comes to evaluating private companies. Kelly Barner outlines the common pitfalls to be ready for…
Many procurement teams have been tasked with diversifying the supply base. This often means partnering with small, diverse, or locally-sourced suppliers.
One challenge that arises is that many of the companies that qualify for such programs are privately owned. The lack of information that usually accompanies private ownership is at odds with procurement’s transparent supplier evaluation frameworks. Add to this the fact that participating in an RFP process just to be ‘diversity fodder’ is onerous and potentially even harmful to small businesses, and we’re left with a paradox:
How can procurement stay true to our mandate while also finding mutually beneficial opportunities for small and diverse businesses?
Procurement will have to do some extra work when evaluating private companies. Here are some common pitfalls to be ready for:
1. Limited or no access to current financials
This begins in the opening section of an RFx: ‘Please attach your company’s most recent corporate financials here.’ To which the supplier responds, ‘N/A: we are a privately held company and as such do not publish our financial statements’. That may be true, but it does not eliminate the need for the supplier to demonstrate that they are financially sound enough to justify an award.
2. Inability to determine risk levels
Procurement has to determine if there are concerns about the supplier’s ability to stay in business. What does their revenue pipeline look like? What are their customer retention rates? Keep in mind that this is a challenge with all companies, not just privately held ones. Procurement has to ensure that private companies are not hiding behind their ‘privateness’.
3. Few customers able to serve as relevant references
While private companies are not always new or small, it is a common combination of characteristics. The customers of small, privately held companies may be as tight lipped as the company they buy from. In fact, some may view their relationship with the private supplier as a competitive advantage or not want to accept the risk associated with speaking for or against such a company in the customer reference checking process.
4. Missing rigor from the expectations of shareholders
Being privately held means drawing capital from angel investors, venture capitalists, and sometimes employees or ‘friends and family’ investors. Who can procurement look to when trying to ensure that the leadership team faces appropriate challenges to their decisions?
Part of this dynamic needs to come from the relationships between leadership team members. Hopefully they (if not their private investors) are willing to fight to ensure the company stays on track.
5. Looming prospect of acquisition
Most private companies are on a journey towards either IPO or acquisition. While both can be disruptive for customers, having a privately held supplier acquired by a larger company is perhaps the greater concern. What changes will be made to contracts or terms of service?
Will the relationship be valued in the same way? Not having the answers to these questions (in large part because the private company’s leadership team doesn’t have them either) can make it hard to commit to a long enough term contract that both parties realise the desired level of value from the arrangement.
Being a private company shouldn’t be the only reason not to consider an otherwise qualified supplier for a contract. The problem is a circular one: if procurement doesn’t have access to the same level of information we do with publicly traded suppliers, how can we determine if they are qualified or not? The answer is likely to be a combination of pushing for additional information and accepting that some of what we are looking for isn’t available. As with all strategic decisions, we can never be 100 per cent certain that our choice is the right one. All procurement can do is maximise the availability of facts to ensure that the decision to contract a private supplier – like all other procurement informed decisions – is based on analysis, not assumptions.