The second in the series of blogs looking into procurement’s gender gap explores to what extent female procurement professionals are happy in their roles and why.
How satisfied are you in your job? In the morning, are you raring to go and keen to embrace the working day, or do you harbour a feeling of dread for what lies ahead? For most, the answer is likely to lie somewhere between the two. But worryingly, for women in procurement, new research finds that the answer lies closer to the less desirable option.
Women are less satisfied than men in procurement roles, according to research from Procurement Leaders’ 2017 Salary Survey, which finds that, on average, men are 3% happier. For a function trying to move away from its unequal persona and drive diversity, this is not the news any CPO would hope to hear.
So, why are women more unhappy than men with their day jobs? The different factors behind job satisfaction can go some way to explaining the different priorities for men and women in the workplace.
Procurement Leaders’ category research manager, Georgina Rowley, explains: “Interestingly, the factors that increase job satisfaction for women are somewhat different to those for men. Job satisfaction for female professionals is more correlated to pay and the number of hours worked, whereas mentoring, training and project opportunities are higher indicators of satisfaction for men.”
The research found that the satisfaction levels of female professionals are more closely related to their total package, consisting of basic salary and bonus; ironic, given that women in procurement earn on average just 75% of their male counterparts.
But perhaps this is the point. Women see pay as an indicator of job satisfaction because they are understandably dissatisfied with this barrier to equal pay. For men, who have generally been used to earning more than their female colleagues throughout their careers, pay has never been an issue and so perhaps is not even on their radar. It is clear what needs to change here to boost satisfaction among female employees: their salaries must be brought in line with their male colleagues’.
Hours worked is also a bigger factor in ensuring women are happy in their roles than it is for men. It could be argued that this is due to the expectations on women to juggle both family life and a career.
The number of hours worked directly increases in relation to the seniority of a job role. While the salary survey may well show that, from the buyer level to the CPO level, the average number of contracted hours remains static at 40 hours per week. However, contracted hours and actual hours worked can be worlds apart.
Actual hours worked rose steadily from 46 hours for buyers to 56 hours for CPOs, indicating that hours worked are directly related to the seniority of the job. Subsequently, rising up the ranks can become a concern to women as it can ultimately lead to sacrifices in their personal and family lives.
It could be that women are struggling to reach the higher-level positions because they find it more difficult than men to commit to longer hours while bringing up a family. Therefore, greater flexibility of hours or the flexibility to work from home could help women to achieve a greater balance between their jobs and their personal lives, in turn, encouraging them to put themselves forward for that next promotion.
On the flip side, training opportunities, project opportunities and mentoring opportunities are not as significant for women than for men. However, following the success of Procurement Leaders’ Women in Procurement pilot mentoring scheme, it seems unlikely that women do not find mentoring opportunities important.
“There was a lot more common ground than anticipated, so we could both share our war stories,” said one mentor.
“Knowledge sharing, making connections and networking has been valuable.”
This is just one of many examples of positive feedback garnered from the scheme. So why are mentoring opportunities poorly correlated with job satisfaction among female procurement professionals? The answer is because mentoring opportunities simply aren’t there for the taking.
“We found that, in procurement, people tend to only have access to mentoring opportunities when they are in more senior positions,” Rowley explains.
“As women in procurement struggle to reach these higher levels it is unlikely they have experienced mentoring in their careers.”
If few women in the profession have ever experienced mentoring, they are unlikely to have seen the benefits that it can offer; it is difficult to relate to the importance of something you have never experienced. In fact, mentoring opportunities should be available throughout a procurement professional’s career, so that women at each stage of their careers can learn from each other.
Knowing what is important to women in procurement is fundamental to knowing how to ensure the happiness of your employees. And it is a well-known fact that happy employees deliver better results for the business. All in all, boosting job satisfaction can be a win-win situation for everyone.
Read part one in the series, factors affecting pay, here.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.