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  • Background – Women in the Procurement domain
  • Advocating their Role in Procurement
  • Spotlight your achievements in this Field
  • Opportunities and challenges that a woman faces in this role
  • Mantra for women to join the procurement domain as a career

    Background – Women in Procurement

    • Past few years witnessed renewed efforts at greater gender equality in executive positions. Data is limited, but recent surveys suggest action within the procurement profession (Medland, 2016).
    • A 2018 US Fortune 500 survey found 7% of executive procurement positions were filled by women. Globally, the figure is reported as 14%. These low levels come despite women accounting for 37% of university procurement students and 41% of global purchasing institute members (Procurement Leaders, 2018).
    • What is also noticeable is that low levels in procurement are not merely low, but lower than in other professions. For example, 21% of US accounting-firm partners, 23% of UK marketing directors, 24% of UK law firm partners, and 55% of US human resource executives are reported to be female (Office of National Statistics, 2018; Burjek and Rafter, 2017).  Extremely low levels in procurement are visible in India.
    • Lack of diversity, can cause a loss of organization-specific knowledge (basis high female employee turnover) and adversely affect the wider economy (Krawiec, 2016).  Within the specific procurement context, a case for diversity can also be made. 
    • While a contingent approach is required when managing expenditure with suppliers, with a considerable segment of expenditure (often the most critical) requiring long-term collaborative relationships (Kraljic, 1983);  this does not align with the quantitative evidence regarding female attributes flexibility of approach and work preference (McCarty et al., 2014).
    • Providing a study is important for two main reasons:
      • existence and causes of low female representation in procurement positions need to be recorded in the procurement literature. It is not only low but lower than in other professions.
      • evidence in the procurement context is necessary to guide remedial action by procurement functions and national procurement institutes.

    Challenges as a woman in this role

    • Work-family PerspectiveInadequate and inflexible work design
    • Work-Preference PerspectiveMale-dominated cultures, informal decision-making and networks
    • Gender Bias Perspective: False and negative, yet pervasive assumptions about women’s skills, competence and ambitions
    • Opting out:  forsake opportunities due to wish for a more traditional female role
    • Travel Content in Procurement RoleIn the era of global sourcing, the role contain a high level of travel, with expectation of availability for travel.;  affecting women with children.
    • Aggressive culture within procurement functions:  linked to erroneous views of ‘best practices’ procurement that more women than men find unappealing; encourages gender bias and undervalues relational attributes  some of which are held more by women)

    Opportunities as a woman in this role

    Take up any of the Procurement Roles based on expertise and experience

    • Senior Level Positions:   Lead procurement team, Manage Budgets, Develop organization’s purchasing policies, Review Supplier Contracts and manage relationships; Maintain knowledge of market, Analyze bids and quotes with potential suppliers, service agreements and contracts; company budget and streamlining costs
    • Mid-level managerial positions:  Identifying potential supplier sources; Managing supplier and vendor contracts; Testing products, Negotiating supply contracts, Creating cost reports; Maintain excellent communication with all business stakeholders, Manage contract development through all lifecycle stages, Provide ongoing assistance to staff on contract development and compliance issues,  Evaluate records for retention in compliance with Board-approved policies
    • Business controller: Analyzing and controlling the development of purchase prices, impact from cost down projects and R&D projects, Monthly reports and KPIs regarding procurement, Forecasting the impact with procurement activities and development in purchase prices
    • Legal counselor: Provide Legal Guidance, Conduct Legal Research, Draft Legal Correspondence, Ensure compliance with the law

    Advocating their Role in Procurement

    Ample opportunity globally and nationally. Role becoming focused and primary.  

    World Bank,  for FY20, lists India as: 

    • Procuring Borrower (1st at 16%)
    • Supplier Country (2nd at 17%)
    • Consulting Services (2nd at 8%) 

    Nationally, India spends 1/3 GDP on public spending.  All Sectors positioning  (PSU’s & Private sector) for procurement officers. Minimum qualification:  BE;  MBA; Law

    Spotlight – my achievements in this Field

    • My previous employer provided ample opportunities. As a team member nearly 500 contracts were closed with laurels. It helped me acquire knowledge – of legal, trade-related protocols,  products specific, and negotiations.  The domain expanded every year. Through the organization was a committee member for the 2012 Procurement Bill.
    • Now as practitioner-turned-academician, teach electives specific to purchasing and supply domains – in India and North America.  Run vendor-related simulations for MNCs,  Provide consultancy to FOBs and SMEs. 
    • Have published several academic publications on supplier selection and presented at international conferences. Researching on the improvement of female representation in the procurement domain, and through the auspices of the skill council (MHRD) advocating the adoption of purchase and procurement subjects in various institutes.

    Mantra for women to join the ‘Procurement Domain’ as a career

    Your essential qualities:

    • Passion
    • Attitude
    • Willingness
    • Drive
    • Focus

    Your important skills:

    • Prioritize
    • Be responsive to the needs of different agencies
    • Practice active listening
    • Be objective

    Indicative References

    Burjek and Rafter, 2017.The Awesome Influence of Women in HR, Workforce, 〈www.workforce.com〉

    Krawiec, A. E. (2016). Socio-economic implications of female inclusion in organizational structures and in leadership positions. International Journal of Management and Economics, 49(1), 106-134. 

    Kraljic, P. (1983). HBR. Harvard business review.

    Medland, 2016  UK Picks Up Baton on Female Representation While Boardrooms Struggle with Change’, Forbes, 8 February

    Office of National Statistics, 2018

    Procurement Leaders, 2018

    World Bank, 2022