As a woman and mother who has undertaken leadership roles in male-dominated environments throughout my career, I have always been passionate about championing gender diversity and ensuring that the organisations I choose to work for and with recognise its importance.
I have been very fortunate to work in environments that celebrate this and while I have encountered gender stereotyping, I have never felt overlooked or disadvantaged due to my gender. However, for some women, this isn’t always the case.
When I joined Heads Resourcing Group in 2018, I was told I had a voice and platform to discuss these topics openly and encourage others to do so too.
According to an article in Spend Matters, “Female senior representation within procurement (top two ranks) in the UK and beyond is extremely low – around 10% to 15%. Surveys also suggest that female senior representation in procurement is lower than in other corporate professions, marketing and HR, for example.”
Hayley Packham, Operations Director, Procurement Heads
Towards the end of 2019, I launched several Women in Procurement initiatives for Heads to do just that; provide women with a safe space to openly share their experiences and come up with solutions that can help them address this in their workplace.
We launched a series of workshops and round tables for women at different stages of their procurement careers, supported by Julie Smith, a People Change Lead and trained Coach and Mentor, who has spent her entire procurement career in both male-dominated procurement functions and industries.
The common themes to come out of these discussions were:
- Imposter syndrome and how to silence it – that feeling of being a fraud or feeling not good enough to do this job; leading a new team; returning to work after a career break or going through a career transition.
- Putting your job before your career – links to the “disease to please” and being stuck in the day to day and not pay attention to your overall career and the long-term view.
- What we can learn from men – claiming their achievements; leveraging relationships rather than just building them; less of the “disease to please” and not falling into the perfection trap (eg is the approach to job descriptions).
- Understanding your values and what is important to you – it helps you understand yourself better, they influence the decisions you make and your priorities, they shape your ability to grow and learn as well as what your future is going to look like both personally and professionally.
- Finding your communication style – learning how to communicate effectively and not feel like you have to be a man in a man’s world.
- Dealing with difficult leaders – and what that teaches you.
- Finding the balance between work and parenthood/home life – building the plan to make it work.
- Elevating women around you to increase our representation – talk, share and really support other women; have a think about what you feel is missing from your workplace and can you spearhead a new program or initiative; offer to mentor young women in procurement and in doing so encourage them to map out their career, help them build their confidence, help them build their network and be open to giving things a go.
As a result of this, we have set up ProcureMentor, a mentor programme for people who have been carefully matched according to their needs and stages of their career, as well as a LinkedIn networking group for women which enables them to have their say in a safe environment.
There are lots of highly skilled and capable Women in Procurement and by constantly talking to the procurement community and highlighting some of the most influential women in the profession, we will see the gender gap close not only at the top but will actively see more women wanting to join the profession at the grassroots level.
We are passionate about procurement and our broader value-add proposition sees us hosting roundtables with subject matter experts, profiling senior procurement leaders, and championing sustainability and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion within the profession.