The procurement profession is suffering from a gender disparity, where salaries and opportunities seem to favour men over women. This is not a surprise, nor is it anything new, and procurement is certainly not the only function affected by this outdated and damaging social issue. Businesses are taking steps to rectify the situation however, and although progress is slow, cracks are beginning to appear in the glass ceiling.
1. Tackling wage disparity
While women are still underrepresented at a senior level, this can be considered a legacy of unfair practice in previous years. Encouragingly, the CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2016 report noted that wage disparity is largely levelling out between male and female procurement professionals in junior roles. This would imply that the next generation of procurement professionals will experience a more balanced salary growth as their seniority increases, and that women going forward will have greater opportunity to rise to the highest positions.
2. Offering support through mentoring
While the future looks bright for the industry, to help women in today’s market, some senior professionals are helping to encourage and develop the skills and talents of young professionals. Women who have made the transition to a senior leadership roles in particular are mentoring other women in the industry, helping to cultivate ambition wherever it appears. To highlight the importance of this, the Hays Gender Diversity Report 2016 revealed that ambition to reach manager and director levels was more common in women than men.
3. Cultivating ambition
The report also discovered that 56% of women in professional services, including procurement, felt they had the freedom to promote themselves and express their ambition. Although this is marginally less than the 64% of men who felt they had the same freedom, it’s the smallest disparity that we measured in any sector. A reassuring indication of progress for women coming into the profession. Whilst there is a lot of ground to cover, businesses with dedicated procurement functions are recognising the problem, and reform seems to be coming from the ground up. More equality at entry level should, if managed carefully, persist as employees move up the ranks of seniority. We are at the beginning of a period of change, and making steps in the right direction to finally breaking the glass ceiling, but there is still much work to be done.
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