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Women Are Making Gains in Procurement, with Room for Improvement

March 15, 2023
New report finds that 22% of women working in procurement feel that gender equity is being completely ignored in their workplaces.

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As organizations nationwide roll out and implement new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, one new survey discovered that there’s still quite a bit of work to be done to level the playing field for women in procurement.

For its survey, Procurious surveyed 170 women to understand the prevalence and impact of gender bias in the procurement workforce and the investments companies are making to drive change. Here’s what the company learned:

  • More women are earning visible leadership roles in procurement and the C-suite, but fewer are advancing to the highest tier at their respective companies. “Twenty-three percent (23%) say women make up 40-50% of their procurement leadership team,” the company reports, “but just 15% see this composition of women in the C-suite or board of directors.”
  • Women are making gains in the workplace, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. While 45% of women feel that gender equity is embraced in their workplace, 33% feel that it is only “sometimes” embraced, and 22% don’t feel that it’s embraced at all. “Our goal must be 100% gender equity,” Procurious states in its report.
  • Companies are taking steps to address gender bias in the workplace, but they need to pick up the pace. “Although 54% of women believe their organizations have taken some steps to address gender bias, just 16% of those have seen tangible progress made over the past year,” the company says.
  • Gender-based adversity is a major problem that affects about 75% of women in the workplace. In procurement, Procurious says the most pervasive forms of adversity include women feeling disadvantaged because of their gender, having males take credit for their work or being paid less than men.
  • Most working women are pulling double and even triple duty at home. Sixty-three percent of women indicated that they are primarily responsible for one or more forms of domestic work, according to the report. This is more prevalent among women who live in Asia Pacific (APAC) countries. 

The challenges don’t end there. According to Procurious, most companies are doing “too little or nothing at all” to protect and promote women in the procurement field. In fact, just 14% of companies have such strategies and another 16% are working on implementing them. “The other 70% either have no strategies in place; or if they do, these strategies are so ineffective or insufficient that they go unnoticed,” the company reports.

Finally, 26% of respondents say they can’t get “air time” during virtual meetings, and have felt ignored or overlooked by male colleagues, including their peers or male higher-ups. Unfortunately, these inequities often follow women home, with 65% taking on at least one additional duty to a greater extent than men—including completing the majority of domestic labor, being the primary caregiver or homeschooling their children.

There’s More Work to be Done

As the report data illustrates, companies underperform women’s expectations and needs when it comes to workplace diversity and fairness. The top three resources and initiatives that women want their companies to invest in to help empower them and tackle gender inequality in the workforce are those that organizations perform the poorest in and need the most improvement. “Put another way,” Procurious adds, “companies struggle the most to deliver what women in procurement need the most in the workplace.”

In a Supply & Demand Chain Executive report on the study, Procurious’ Tania Seary told the publication that women in procurement endure innumerable “microaggressions and challenges” in their daily job roles.

“Although women are making gains in the workforce and forward-thinking organizations are investing in and protecting their female employees, significant challenges remain. Put bluntly: There’s a lot of talk but not enough action or results,” said Seary, Procurious’ CEO. “Our research found that only 16% of women have seen their organizations make tangible progress toward addressing gender bias this year. We need to work together to lift up, empower and protect women in the workforce and drive real change.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.