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Retaining talent should be a top priority for business leaders across every industry. High staff turnover not only incurs unwanted recruitment costs but training and productivity costs too.
For procurement, retaining female professionals should be a major concern for procurement chiefs as they are already largely under-represented in what has been traditionally a male-dominated profession.
Procurement Leaders' 2017 Salary Survey found that women represent only 23% of procurement directors and just 12% of CPOs.
The survey also found that women are more likely than men to be planning to leave their jobs over the next two years. In fact, some 15% of female respondents said they were actively looking for a new role or are in the stages of securing a new position elsewhere.
What might come as a surprise is that women were found to be more likely than men to stay in the same company, suggesting that it is not a case of moving to a new organisation to work in procurement, but wanting to leave the function altogether.
“This suggests that the procurement function itself, rather than the company they work at, struggles to retain female talent over the long term,” explains Procurement Leaders' research analyst, Alex Johnston.
So, how can procurement encourage more women to stay in the profession?
Mentoring opportunities and remuneration were found to be the most important factors when it came to whether women stay in procurement, according to the survey. Pay was found to be 34% more likely to help retain female staff than males, while mentoring opportunities were cited by 9%.
It comes as little surprise that pay is a major retention factor for women in procurement, given that women's salaries are typically 25% lower than those of men. Bringing women's salaries in line with their male counterparts' would almost certainly have an immediate benefit on the retention rates.
When it comes to mentoring, this factor partly correlates with female job satisfaction, yet is a major factor for retention.
Some 78% of procurement professionals attribute their success, in part, to another individual who has either inspired, sponsored or championed their career, according to the Leadership in Procurement 2016 survey. This suggests that being exposed to the concept of mentoring, especially at a junior level, is invaluable to career progression and, in turn, to the retention of high-performing staff.
Research shows that mentoring opportunities are more commonly afforded to senior-level employees. With women typically leaving the function before they reach these senior-level positions, it follows that if they were given more mentoring opportunities at the buyer or regional category-manager level, they would be more likely to stay in the profession and move up through the ranks.
If procurement functions were to offer mentoring opportunities and better salaries to their female employees, they would benefit from a greater retention rate of women and cut the damaging proportion of females who are currently leaving the profession.
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This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders' content team.
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