Women: Beat inflation – become your own CPO!

In times of inflation, statistics show that women are distinctly disadvantaged – but the key to beating inflation is more easily procured than it may seem

Over the last several months, inflation has been hitting procurement teams hard. The United States is experiencing the highest level of inflation in 40 years and inflation across the Eurozone has officially hit the highest level ever reported. Globally, the United Nations predicts inflation will increase to 6.7%, which is twice the average recorded during 2010-2020. With these numbers on the rise, many economists predict a recession is imminent and some believe we’ve already entered one.

As a result, procurement teams are finding themselves responsible for the nearly impossible task of fighting back against inflation – on top of supply chain shortages due to ongoing disruption from the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, other geopolitical issues and more. Gone are the days when procurement was strictly a transactional function. Today’s economic pressures have transformed procurement into a critical enabler of business growth, agility, transparency, resilience, collaboration and social impact.

The bottom line? Procurement’s job just got a lot more complicated.

Bearing the Inflation Burden

As if working in procurement weren’t stressful enough, women in procurement have had a personal reason to feel pinched: inflation disproportionately affects them compared to their male colleagues – a similar trend to what some called the “shecession” of 2020. Unlike any other modern recession, the downturn triggered by the pandemic generated far more employment losses for women than men. In addition, women were handed the burden of household duties, childcare and other forms of unpaid labour in addition to an already uneven ratio compared to men.

Despite having made some economic gains since the start of the pandemic, inflation, which has been rising globally since early 2021, is threatening to cut women’s recovery short. Women often spend significantly more of their income than men on household goods, which are particularly impacted by inflation. But also, products marketed at women tend to rise in price by more than those aimed at men – reflecting a “pink tax” on women’s consumer goods. According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average cost of women’s formal shoes has risen by 75% in the last year, while the cost for men’s only rose by 14%. Similarly, the cost of women’s blouses has risen by 29% while there was a 6% drop in men’s shirts.

The “pink tax” is evident beyond just clothing. Men’s electric razors have dropped in price by 6% over the last year, but electric hair styling appliances more commonly used by women have gone up by 32%. And if you can find them despite the current supply chain problems, even tampon prices are on the rise due to price increases for raw materials like cotton, rayon and plastic.

In addition, inflation historically has the biggest impact on people living on a fixed income and those who are in debt. With that in mind, consider the fact that women today hold about two-thirds of student debt, often delay health care because of medical debt, and are more likely to hold credit card balances compared to men.

Want to Beat Inflation? Become Your Own CPO

While the fact that inflation and a potential recession are bound to impact women more than men is certainly unfair, unfortunately that’s the reality we live in – at least for now. What’s more, it’s not just inflation and recession. Pay disparities, the “glass ceiling,” layoffs, and being a caregiver to a child or parent, or both (we see you, “Sandwich Generation”) affect women more often than their male counterparts. It’s unfair; and it’s maddening. But it’s also a compelling reason to approach your career and your personal finances as if you’re your own Chief Procurement Officer. 

Consider this – executive teams look to their CPOs to overcome market pressures and challenges to maximise the value of their procurements, sourcing, and supplier base. They know how to lead, advocate, negotiate, develop options, and drive maximum value. In doing so, they manage financial and operational risk for their teams and the whole organisation. 

Here’s what these principles look like for you:

  • Leadership – Although some things are out of your control (inflation, recession), how you respond to these circumstances is completely within your control. Also, you’re in control of your career, so take the lead on it and hold yourself accountable.
  • Advocacy – Be your own cheerleader. Don’t wait for others to do it first, or for you. Demonstrate and communicate your value to your stakeholders. And take your seat at the table. Don’t wait for someone to clear a space for you. 
  • Negotiation – Stuck at the same pay grade for too long with not even a cost-of-living increase? Not being appreciated and paid fairly? Know your worth. Negotiate for higher pay, better total compensation, or more flexible work arrangements. 
  • Develop Options – Not getting anywhere with negotiations? Have viable options, and don’t be afraid to pursue them. In fact, the fastest and easiest way to bump your pay is to quit your job and find a better paying one
  • Maximise Value – Leverage your existing connections, resources, and time to upskill, network, and become a SME at something unique. You’re already valuable – become invaluable to your team and you’ll be in a more advantageous bargaining position.

Feeling overwhelmed wearing the CPO’s hat? You don’t have to go it alone. And you don’t have to go unarmed. Let us help you.

BRAVO Helps Prepare You for Whatever Comes Next 

The BRAVO leadership program is a global community of like-minded women in procurement and supply chain dedicated to building each other up and fighting against inequality against women in the workplace. Unlike mixed-gender groups in which women are less likely to speak up on their specific challenges, BRAVO offers a safe space for women to freely express their concerns, learn from each other, and get inspired.

With dedicated masterclasses, coaching, and mentorship opportunities, the programme can help fill in those support gaps where women need them the most. From learning how to successfully negotiate a salary raise, to personal branding and leadership coaching, BRAVO offers the sponsorship and resources women need to fight inequalities, unlock their potential and advance their careers – even when facing the obstacles of inflation, societal pressures, hybrid work, and more.

Ready to unlock your leadership superpowers? Join BRAVO-The Event designed to help you reach your full potential within our challenging profession. When you register, you will automatically qualify for a 10% discount on the 2023 BRAVO Leadership Programme. 

Find more Women In Procurement & Supply Chain news, insights, and best practises at Procurious.com.

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