The talent pipeline is bursting with superstar women at entry – mid level. Why then, is that same pipeline so overwhelmingly stocked with men at the leadership level? In the words of Beyonce – Who run the world? Girls!
Bravo! Celebrating and Connecting Women in Procurement – get involved here.
If you work for a large, multinational organisation, a quick scan of the office might have you convinced that gender disparity in the workplace is a thing of the past. But think again!
- A recent Harvard and Princeton study revealed that blind applications led to five times more female candidates being employed
- Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions
- There are fewer women leading FTSE firms than there are men called John.
Now let’s take a look at the Procurement stats. According to research conducted by John Everett, EMEA Business Service Group Director at Dow Chemical and CIPS-Switzerland Branch Chairperson, in the majority of procurement associations, women account for 20-35 per cent of memberships and at procurement conferences, they represent just 30 per cent of attendees and 20 per cent of speakers.
Why is workplace diversity so important?
I’d forgive you at this point for thinking that the circumstances seem pretty bleak. But all is not lost!
The good news? The lack of diversity throughout our organisations affects everybody; men and women alike. It’s statistically proven that employees achieve more when they can be themselves and also that diverse organisations are more likely to outperform their non-diverse counterparts. 35 per cent more likely, to be exact.
- Diverse and inclusive teams result in a decreased turnover within an organisations. When employees are happy and face no discrimination, they’re far more likely to stick around
- Top talent won’t want to work for a company that has a track record of gender inequality or employment discrimination. An organisation’s reputation with regards to diversity is super important to prospective employees
- If employees within your organisation aren’t a true representation of your customer and stakeholder base, you can’t possibly act with everyone’s interests in mind
- Everyone brings different skills and talents to the table. There is no question that you’re narrowing your business horizons if everyone at the top is the same gender, race, age and/or sexuality.
If we were to unleash all of the latent power of women out there, we could unlock almost £10 trillion of additional global economic output.
And so, it’s in everyone’s interests to help improve diversity and inclusion.
What is Bravo?
At Procurious, we want to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and thrive within the procurement profession. That’s why we’re launching Bravo – a Procurious Group celebrating and promoting women working in Procurement.
“Procurement is a pathway to the CEO’s office. So I hope that increasing participation of women in procurement leadership roles, will ultimately lead to a brighter future for female business leaders.” explains Tania Seary, Procurious’ founder.
“We want all of our members – women and men alike – to unite and tackle diversity barriers head-on, shining a spotlight on the career success factors that will allow women to thrive at all levels of the business.”
Women in Procurement at ProcureCon
Earlier this month at ProcureCon IT in Amsterdam, the Procurious team attended a ‘Women in Procurement’ breakfast – a fantastic example of the power of women connecting and sharing their experiences.
Hosted by Claire Tapping, Head of IT Purchasing Rolls-Royce, the meeting brought together 20 inspiring women who shared their experiences, observations and reflections on what it’s like to be a woman striving for success in the procurement profession.
There was a general consensus among the group that diversity within procurement has noticeably improved in recent years. The attendees were particularly heartened to see so many females at an IT/Tech conference; an industry where women have been typically underrepresented.
But there’s still a long way to go. Several people commented on the importance in changing attitudes towards women in the workplace and, in particular, the demeaning vocabulary often used to describe them
Female managers are often described as “bitchy” or “bossy” or simply condemned for having a strong personality. Men, on the other hand, might be deemed authoritative or passionate for expressing the same character traits.
Challenging these perceptions, and calling out discriminatory attitudes, will go a long way to ensuring women are respected at work and promoted into leadership positions.
Women CAN Have it All!
It was fascinating to listen to accounts from women of different ethnicities who are working across the globe. It quickly became clear that experiences vary dramatically, particularly when it comes to balancing work and family life.
In Switzerland, for example, working mothers are not readily accommodated. Childcare costs are exceptionally high and there is little government support. As one delegate commented, “Switzerland has the most highly educated housewives of any European country.”
By contrast, Iceland ranks top in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index, and has done for the past six years. Almost 80 per cent of Icelandic women work. They represent, thanks to quotas, almost 50 per cent of board members, versus 23.2 per cent in the UK. (We’ve packed our bags- who’s coming with us?!)
Many of the ProcureCon delegates could relate to the struggles of being a working mother. In many countries, it’s harder for men to work part time, or to receive paternity leave.
Women have been made to feel that they shouldn’t take on senior positions if they’re planning on starting a family. Conversely, in accepting a new senior role, some have felt as though they should put their family plans on hold.
Laws need to be adapted and organisations must work towards accommodating working parents; both men and women. Everyone should have the opportunity to choose how they take care of their families.
What’s to Come?
Short of us all moving to Iceland next year, the best we can do is work to make a change wherever we are and however we can. And there’s always strength in numbers.
Most of the women present at ProcureCon work for organisations where there is an organisation-wide women’s network, but nothing specific for procurement pros.
We want Bravo to help fill this gap, making it easier for us to communicate, share ideas, mentor and be energised to do more!
As part of Bravo, we’ll speaking with a number of high profile procurement leaders to hear their advice for any young women starting a career in procurement, and their tips on helping women get ahead.
Join the discussion on Procurious.