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Diversity and inclusion in procurement

Inclusivity and diversity are two hot topics in procurement at the moment. Although many companies are part of the move to bring a broad mix of suppliers and individuals into purchasing roles and the supply chain, there is still a long way to go.


A 2017 survey by the Policy Exchange thinktank showed purchasing managers to be the eighth-least ethnically diverse role in the UK alone. At the same time, other reports have continued to highlight the benefits of diversifying both procurement’s core workforce and their supply chainss.


Many businesses are working hard to attract a more diverse workforce – but widening a pool of prospective employees should just the start of your efforts.


Build from the top

Senior management teams and boards need to actively promote inclusion for it to be a real success. As part of this, such senior figures should them host forums on representation, attend events and write content on the benefits of diversity.


This will lay the foundations for the development of inclusion and diversity across and throughout the business and enable these concepts to grow increasingly important over time.


There are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved, including equality forums and charities such as Business in the Community, which will ensure procurement chiefs learn about new and innovative ways to drive a diverse culture in their businesses.


Create an inclusive culture

Harish Bhayani, senior partner at diversity consultants PRM, has said that if your company culture is not inclusive then those from a diverse background will either “leave or languish in” your business.


To fix this, senior managers should ask their mentors or trusted colleagues to assess their attitudes toward inclusivity. Managers should also surveys staff at a team, departmental and organisational level to assess their understanding of inclusion.

Beyond that, it is essential to establish a transparent and meritocratic progression structure.


At Bramwith, we have clear and quantifiable targets for promotion, pay rises and incentives so everyone can see people succeed on merit. If you are hiring on merit from a wide and diverse candidate pool and you have clear targets for progression, then you should have no need for quotas to help people rise through the ranks – our current staff ratios are 42% women and 39% black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), with a 75% BAME management team.

Find common ground

People should feel comfortable being themselves in the workplace. Whether that means being able to take days off for religious or cultural celebrations or inviting colleagues to their civil partnership ceremony. No one should have to conceal things that are important to them in order to fit in.


To get the best out of a diverse team, you need to build a common culture and sense of purpose. In the office, this means ensuring staff do not split into sub-groups and ensuring they feel ownership of the work they do.


Team-building activities that proactively mix people up and break down barriers can work really well.


You should also provide opportunities for engagement and feedback such as reverse mentoring, cultural meetings at which employees can voice suggestions and make use of anonymous surveys so people can share their views without any fear.


If you forge a truly inclusive culture your business will benefit. Diversity can improve innovation and financial performance – so create a space where people from all backgrounds can flourish.


Ben Riley is Bramwith Consulting’s global director, and diversity and inclusion champion


This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content

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