How to honor women in procurement this March?

March is Women’s History Month, and it also happens to be National Procurement Month. What better way to celebrate than by honoring women in procurement?

Female procurement leader

First, you need to understand exactly what procurement means to businesses and learn about some known female global leaders.

Define – Procurement vs. Supply chain

Unless you’re intimately familiar with the procurement industry, you may not know exactly what goes on in the sphere. Even if you are acquainted with the term and processes, procurement departments can seem quite similar to supply chain teams. Often, this can get muddled in the B2B arena. Here are the main differences:

  • Supply chain executives work with post-contractual obligations.
  • Procurement officials deal with initial securing of contracts.

While they are closely intertwined, the procurement teams are the individuals that you should be in contact with when looking to secure suppliers for your business. They will know the ins and outs of how to connect your business to suppliers, but you should be aware of what to look for in these suppliers, as well.

Seek diversity in suppliers.

Women in procurement are taking charge. Diversifying the industry has led to a broader understanding of what it means to seek diversity for B2B suppliers.

No matter where you are in your company’s hierarchy, look for the people that make the supplier contract decisions. Who is in charge? Are diversity and inclusion something that they incorporate into their search efforts?

March is a great excuse to look into these practices. Dig a little deeper. Ask the hard questions. Otherwise, your business won’t benefit from a diverse batch of suppliers. Being closed off and only working within your known network leads to a silo effect.

The best ideas and innovations are generated from diverse networks of differing backgrounds with various perspectives.

Learn about female procurement leaders.

The best way to get a grasp on procurement efforts lead by women is to follow the female leaders in the space, themselves. They have first-hand experience on how to lead the way into a more diverse culture of procurement. It’s easy enough to see what someone is up to online these days. This March, take to Twitter or LinkedIn to keep up with women in the procurement space. Keep your eyes and ears open for what they have to say. That’s the first step. Some women in the space to watch include:

  • Stacey Taylor, SVP & Chief Procurement Officer at MGM Resorts International.
  • Jill Robbins, Senior Director of Global Procurement of Indirect Goods and Services at Elanco.
  • Kimberly DeWitt, Head of Procurement and Material Control at CF Industries.

This is just a small sample of the women leading global and national purchasing efforts. Interested in a particular company? Take a look at their staff and find the purchasing officer. The title may be different at each organization, but look for key words like “procurement”, “purchaser”, and “sourcing”.

Attend specialized networking events.

Learn about the purchasing space, and take that knowledge into real life. There are in-person and virtual networking events to attend. If you are a woman, man, or non-conforming, you are welcome to learn about procurement.

Putting yourself out there and signaling that you are open to learning about inclusion in the space is the best way to get involved. It shows initiative. More events will likely be available in March, but sign up for updates all year round.

Read about breaking the glass ceiling.

The notion of breaking the glass ceiling first came about in 1986. You would think that, by now, it would have been simplified and put into practice. However, there is still work to be done. Shatter the glass ceiling by informing yourself.

Read books, blogs, magazines, and stories about overcoming adversity as a woman in the workplace. This way, you can gain an inside look into the struggles that come with being a woman in a male-dominated field. This happens in a variety of fields, but procurement, in particular, favors “male drive”.

Change your idea of gender.

As you read up on the glass ceiling, you will realize that men have been favored in the workplace for many reasons. Among those reasons is their appearance of being more dominant and assertive. This is the case for some men, and, biologically, this can be true across the board. However, different factors from genetics to environmental stimuli during adolescence can lead to differing traits. Men and women can be more androgynous than is typically thought and accepted. Gender is more of a spectrum, with women and men displaying a variety of masculine and feminine traits.

Keep in mind that women are not traditionally known for their ability to work in sales. Their male counterparts are often thought to be the headstrong, persuasive leaders. However, in the ever-changing world of gender non-conformity, there are traditionally masculine characteristics that women can possess. This doesn’t mean they are any less feminine. They are just more powerful and able to break into the procurement sphere with confidence. Give them that chance, during March and beyond.

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