3 Ways to Build a Diverse Procurement Team

While today’s world is largely committed to the idea of a diverse team, how do you translate that into reality? Here’s 3 ways.

Fortunately, most organisations are now at a point where no one needs to make a case for diversity: we all simply know that diverse teams – those that have both a diversity of thought, but also a diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation and geographical location – are the best. 

But in case you need any convincing, research shows that diverse teams perform up to 30% better than non-diverse teams, and are also more creative, innovative, and better at problem solving. 

All of these things: optimal performance, new ideas, and innovations, are exactly what modern, successful procurement teams need. But despite this, creating a diverse procurement team isn’t as easy as it may seem. 

Humans are creatures of habit, and once we’ve done something and it’s succeeded, we’re likely to want to repeat it again and again. 

For that reason, procurement managers often hire someone, and if they are the ‘right fit’, they then look for people with similar skills, experience, and personality traits. 

This creates a situation where an entire procurement team thinks and acts in exactly the same way: the opposite of what diversity is all about. 

It can be challenging to break this cycle, but it’s absolutely necessary. Here’s how to build a diverse procurement team: 

Lead by example and set meaningful targets 

Like almost all initiatives, a diverse procurement team begins with diverse procurement leadership. 

If you’re a procurement leader, setting the right example not only means ensuring diverse representation across your leadership team, but expressing commitment to diversity across the broader procurement team. 

Ideally, your procurement leadership team’s vision for diversity would be shared by the organisation’s C-suite. 

However, if it isn’t, this doesn’t need to prevent meaningful action. It’s the responsibility of your procurement leaders to set meaningful targets for implementing and measuring success in diversity. 

These targets need to be public and tangible, and should include metrics such as the percentage of interviews conducted with candidates from underrepresented groups.

Diversify your interview panels 

For the reasons discussed above, procurement hiring managers tend to hire those just like them. 

It can be difficult to change this, because our subconscious mind tells us that it’s easier to be around people who are like us. 

In order to change this to better facilitate diverse teams, all hiring managers (and all procurement employees, for that matter), should undergo unconscious bias training. 

In addition to this, teams should make a conscious and deliberate effort to ensure interview panels include a diverse range of people. That way, not only will a diverse talent pool allow for diverse hiring, but a diverse hiring team will ensure a variety of opinions and experiences come together to make a final decision.

Review job description requirements 

Many job descriptions contain biassed statements that procurement managers aren’t aware of. These are generally the statements that seem ‘tried and tested’ – those we include as common practice across position descriptions but no one ever stops to ask ‘why’ we include them at all.

Take, for example, the requirement for ‘10 years’ procurement experience. 

This may appeal to a male in his mid 30s, but may not appeal to a female in her mid 30s if she has taken time out of the workforce to be with her children. Likewise, requirements around qualifications may exclude people who are experienced, but not formally qualified. 

Then there’s also the fact that many women in procurement don’t go for roles unless they feel like they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men feel more confident in doing so even when they meet just 60%. 

For all of these reasons, to encourage diversity, try writing a job description that is as broad as possible and encourages candidates from all backgrounds to apply. 

How diverse is your procurement team? What do you do to encourage diversity in your hiring processes? Let us know in the comments below.