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How to maintain focus on diversity & inclusion in procurement

By Scott Dance, Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain

Our world of work has undergone seismic shifts this year and the procurement profession is no exception. ‘Business as usual’ took a back seat as organisations handled the immediate impacts of the pandemic and huge numbers of professionals switched to working remotely practically overnight.

Now, six months on from when lockdown commenced in March, we are able to get some sense of the impact that these changes have caused. According to research conducted for the Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report, one of the impacts of this change has been on the ED&I agendas across organisations.

Does ED&I need to be a priority?

Many employers have woken up to the reality that a more equal, diverse and inclusive workplace offers many advantages for their organisation, from greater innovation to improved productivity and more. Our survey of over 10,000 respondents echoes this, while also highlighting the importance that professionals themselves place on ED&I.

We found that over three quarters (78%) of those working in procurement said that when looking for a new role, an organisation’s diversity and inclusion policies are important to them. Furthermore, nearly two thirds (63%) said they would only apply to an organisation which has a public commitment to ED&I. Therefore ED&I needs to remain a priority - particularly when it comes to attracting new talent.

The impacts of flexible working

Flexible and remote working aren’t new to most organisations, but the rapid, widespread uptake of these working practices when lockdown commenced has had an impact. Over three quarters (79%) of those working in procurement are currently working flexibly and, encouragingly, over a third (35%) believe this has positively shaped their organisation’s ED&I agenda.

However, respondents also noted drawbacks to this flexibility, such as feelings of isolation and blurred boundaries between their work and home lives. Furthermore, over a third (34%) believe that working flexibly can limit career progression.

What employers need to do

It’s crucial that the procurement profession continues to strive for better when it comes to ED&I, even though many organisations continue to face economic challenges. Here are our recommendations for how procurement employers can keep their ED&I agendas on track.

  • Make a commitment to ED&I: A diverse and inclusive workforce is no longer a unique selling point to prospective employees. Employers wanting to attract and retain the best individuals need to make comprehensive ED&I policies a core part of their talent acquisition and retention strategy.
  • Promote ED&I initiatives to jobseekers: ED&I policies including flexible working options need to be promoted at key points in the jobseeker journey, such as in job ads and on your organisation’s website, to avoid lowering your engagement with top talent.
  • Tailor your flexible working options: Flexible working isn’t one-size-fits-all. Employers need to be aware that it offers huge advantages for some, but drawbacks for others depending on their role, working style and personal circumstances. Try to be mindful of and accommodating to this by remaining open to flexible working for all employees, not just those who are parents or carers.

How employees can take responsibility

For an organisation’s ED&I agenda to flourish, employees also need to recognise their role and responsibility. Here are some things to think about:

  • Look for an employer’s commitment to ED&I: If you are job searching, make looking for ED&I policies a priority. Organisations that are committed to ED&I are invariably more enjoyable to work for and are more likely to thrive in our rapidly evolving world of work.
  • Think about your working preferences: What do you need to work at your best? Consider what your ideal working arrangement would be and discuss this with your employer. An organisation that truly fosters a diverse and inclusive environment will work with you to figure out a flexible working arrangement which best suits you.
  • Stay adaptable and practical: Try to remain adaptable and practical in light of your employer’s situation and the current circumstances. When discussing ED&I initiatives or flexible working, approach the conversation constructively and focus on how both you and your organisation will benefit.

By working together, employers and employees will help the procurement profession continue to make progress in their ED&I agendas and reap the benefits that this provides.

For further insights into how flexible working can help facilitate equality in the workplace, request your copy of the Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion 2020 Report.
 

About this author

Scott joined Hays in 2002 as a Trainee Consultant, and is now Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain. With over 15 years’ experience, Scott advises clients on workforce management solutions, works with the industry institute CIPS as a trusted knowledge partner, and provides strategic leadership to Hays’ procurement and supply chain recruitment experts.

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The future is flexible

Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020

In our latest Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Report, we explore whether flexible working can help create more diverse workforces and more inclusive workplaces.

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