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Next generation female leaders in procurement: Closing the gap. Where do we begin?

by Jonathan Hall

Next generation female leaders in procurement

I’m often asked about the next generation of female leaders in procurement – where prospective employees can find them and why, as a country, we still appear to have minimal representation of senior women in the industries of supply chain management and procurement.

Attracting, retaining and advancing females in the manufacturing industry is a real issue from a human resourcing perspective. But without a dedicated focus by leaders within businesses to reinvent some of the key challenges around developing new talent, the gender gap is likely to just continue widening. So, what should current leaders be thinking about to increase the representation of women in their companies?

To begin, I think the immediate opportunity lies in companies simply showing a dedicated commitment to hiring, progressing and retaining women within their business, which in turn will begin to attract female applicants; from graduates to seasoned executive professionals.

It’s also important that the responsibility of evening up the gender balance is undertaken and supported by all levels of the business.

A new team playbook

Securing the next generation of female leaders means resetting traditional mindsets and outlining actionable plans for re-balancing the workforce in both numbers and time. While it may seem like a daunting task for many businesses, it’s encouraging to think that male-dominated, global organisations such as BHP Billiton are adopting and implementing new measurable goals like those reported in the Australian Financial Review. Nine years from now, they aim to have a 50/50 gender balance, with women working across the business at all levels including sitting on the board.

BHP is one business committed to doing their part. However, with women making up 47% of the total workforce, yet only representing a meagre 27% within the manufacturing industry according to research conducted by the Manufacturing Institute, APICS and Deloitte, collectively there is a long way to go. So, start thinking about ways your business can make a difference by reviewing these 5 key areas:

Diversity

In the context of attracting female leaders into the business of procurement, this ‘buzzword’ relates to a company’s ability (and willingness) to provide a flexible work environment, leadership opportunities, equal pay and a culture that values, supports and develops a mixed talent pool regardless of gender biases.

“Inclusion” in the workplace is fast becoming a priority for many businesses. For supply chain management and procurement led organisations the challenge for leaders in achieving diversity will be breaking apart dated stereotypes.

Motivation

Investment in personal development early on in a woman’s career; mentoring, networking, and promotional plans are relevant and strategic ways procurement businesses can encourage young, talented female leaders to stay in the industry and move up through the ranks.

Role fit

For we recruiters and HR types, we have been asked for many years to base an applicant’s “merit” on their immediate ability to land on their feet and execute the job. It’s not often we’re briefed to look at the ‘potential’ of a candidate – their capacity to learn the job. Finding new female leaders of the future who can contribute to a company’s success will require recruitment panels and selection teams to consciously aim for a 50-50 gender balance during the application process, in turn bringing a new acceptance towards merit vs. potential.

Remuneration

As men, the fact is that we are less likely to have to face the difficult choice that many women make: career or family. Regardless of industry, is there an opportunity in your business to help close the gap on the stereotypical perception that high-paying careers are only for “ambitious” women who are willing to give up other areas of their life? Could future female leaders in your business successfully balance both with a supportive strategy in place?

Effectiveness

Women’s economic equality is good for business. There are many published examples highlighting the ways in which companies have benefited from increasing leadership opportunities for women, while at the same time increasing organisational effectiveness. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management positions rate higher in dimensions of organisational effectiveness than businesses without female leaders in place. Why not set some new score benchmarks in your business?


If you would like to have a discussion about next generation female leaders in procurement, get in touch with Jonathan Hall on 07 3338 5793.​