In Amsterdam a group of female CPOs and procurement professionals gathered for a Women in Procurement networking breakfast where they shared their experiences of how they have navigated what has traditionally been a male dominated world, their thoughts on quotas and coming back into the job after having a child.
Here’s what we learned...
Breaking down barriers
Proving that women currently sit in some of the most important CPO roles globally, the UN’s World Food Programme procurement chief, Corinne Fleischer, sent her apologies after having to travel to Haiti following a devastating storm that has killed over 300 people and destroyed thousands of homes. Here she was helping with the aid effort and providing support and shelter to those displaced.
Procurement Leaders’ COO and Women in Procurement advocate Nandini Basuthakur however said that women needed to be the drivers of change.
“Women need to take initiative and not just be happy with the hand they have been dealt, but strive to reach more,” she said.
No box-ticking exercise
Attendees though warned businesses that they had to be wary of making such efforts as a box-ticking exercise.
“It’s not about quotas. We want to get the job on merit and not to fill a quota,” said SABMiller’s global category director of technology and business services, Michelle Baker.
There was wide agreement in the room though that women in senior positions needed to ’double-proof’ themselves. Being promoted or recruited into the role, they said, was not enough evidence to prove that they deserved the role.
Female CPOs have to prove themselves twice as much as male CPOs was the general consensus.
Getting back to work
The return to work question was another debate topic. There was agreement that women who have children have a series of challenges to overcome when they return to work.
Many around the table said that a mentoring programme would be helpful on their return to the office to help boost their confidence as well as improve their skills.
There is still a long way to go for women before they find themselves on a equal footing to men in the function. While progress has been made and will continue to be made there are many areas that need to be pushed forward.
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This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.