Why isn’t gender diversity a priority in your succession planning?


Most corporates now have a diversity and inclusion programme. I’m sure most of you reading this now will have read an internal email about it or heard it mentioned during a townhall. With diversity and inclusion programmes becoming the norm, why aren’t we seeing change at the top levels? The adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is still a message that permeates women’s working life. While it’s amazing to be a pioneer, to be the first female XYZ, we are ultimately working towards equality for all women, not just a select few.


There’s an increasing number of women working in procurement, but as is the case with many industries the top levels remain majority male dominated. At Procurement Leaders we have been working with our Women Procurement Leaders Advocates, a group of awesome women in procurement who are passionate about diversity and championing women. In our recent discussions the importance of succession planning was highlighted repeatedly as integral to moving more women into senior leadership positions.


What can we do to ensure our succession planning supports the progression of women in procurement? This is a complex and multifaceted challenge. Here are a few tips to help move the needle towards gender parity in your organisation.



Succession planning begins during the recruitment process. When hiring new staff, particularly for more senior roles, ensure you have a diverse shortlist. If your recruiters, whether internal or external, are not providing you with diverse lists, you need to challenge their processes and impress upon them the importance of doing so.


Training your future leaders

It’s integral that companies begin to identify female potential leaders early in their careers and offer training and support for their personal development. Creating mentoring programmes, training in leadership skills and soft skills will make sure these future leaders have all the skills and business acumen required to be successful at the top of their field.


Champion successful women

It’s harder to retain high potential female staff if you don’t have examples of women succeeding in senior roles. If your employees can’t see any women in senior roles, they may suspect the organisation has a culture that is unsupportive of their female staff. You can create internal case studies of success stories, run an employee of the month scheme or offer incentives for successful projects. You should have a process to share all of this on your company’s social media platforms as well as internal intranets and chat systems to raise awareness.


Track your success

Making the changes above will impact the success of your succession planning for gender parity, but it is important to acknowledge your successes, and reflect on your approach if you aren’t seeing any changes. Tracking the success (or lack thereof) of your efforts will hold you and your organisation accountable and encourage others to work harder on the challenge, as they know they will be measured against it.


These are just a few ways you can work towards successful succession planning to improve the number of senior women in your organisation. What needs to occur is a business-wide culture shift.


What next?


Our latest project in collaborate with our Women Procurement Leaders Advocates is creating a gender diversity checklist to help you evaluate your function and wider organisation’s commitment gender diversity. If you’d like a copy and you are a Procurement Leaders member, sign up to our newsletter here.


If you are not yet a Procurement Leaders member and would like more information, contact us here.

Ciara Whiteman
Posted by Ciara Whiteman

Want to learn more? Please fill in your details to hear from us.