The survey found the average procurement salary increased by 5.3% in comparison to a average UK salary increase of 2.7% © Getty
The survey found the average procurement salary increased by 5.3% in comparison to a average UK salary increase of 2.7% © Getty

Employers must ‘debias processes’ to close purchasing gender pay gap

17 May 2019

The gender pay gap at senior level for procurement professionals has widened, according to the 2019 CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights report.

Speaking at the launch event for the report, hosted by Capgemini UK, Elysia McCaffrey, deputy head of the Government Equalities Office, discussed how employers should look to debias their recruitment processes and systems.

McCaffrey suggested ensuring multiple women are on interview shortlists and using skills-based assessments and structured interviews to stop unconscious bias during the interview process.

She said: “It's just a much much fairer way of doing it. It stops you from doing the very human thing, which is a survival instinct, of liking people who are like us. We are naturally inclined to seek people out who we find something in common with.”

McCaffrey also recommends specifying a salary range in the job description to encourage salary negotiations with candidates.

“If you advertise a job and just say salary competitive, that's really a disadvantage to women who often will discuss what they have been paid in their previous job, maybe a little bit more. Whereas men will go in and ask for, '£1 billion, but I'll settle for half',” she said.

This openness and transparency should then be continued into promotion, pay, and rewards processes once candidates are in your organisation, she said.

More than 3,000 procurement professionals took part in the survey, which found male professionals at a senior level continue to earn more than women, with the gap widening by two percentage points since 2018 to 35%. However, the pay disparity is closing at professional and managerial levels, from 14% to 9% and 11% to 5% respectively.  

Demand for procurement skills remained high, and over half (56%) of procurement professionals involved in recruitment stated they had struggled to find the right talent, with a lack of sector skills and experience cited as one of the largest challenges, the report said.

As 65% of managers are expecting to hire in the next 12 months, the perceived lack of skills shows the importance of investing in talent retention strategies, building procurement teams from within and succession planning, the report said.

Scott Dance, director, Hays procurement & supply chain, said a lack of skills could be down to an employer’s perception of who they want to hire, often looking for candidates with similar experiences to them.

He continued: “It is unprovoking for thoughts, new ideas, and sharing new ways of best practices of working. If you're always hiring the same people, chances are you're probably not going to get them but even if you do, it's going to be quite an uninspiring function.”

John Glen, CIPS economist, agreed that procurement leaders should be looking to “grow their own talent” and offer different experiences to procurement professionals to help with the skills shortages.

He said: “If we're going to manage people into the senior levels of these professions, we have to allow them potentially to go outside procurement, we have to allow them potentially to go outside the United Kingdom. We have to manage relationships with them, but then bring them back into our organisation.

“You have a vested interest in developing talent from your own perspective. You're not going anywhere until you've grown somebody who can replace you. It also creates a pool of promotable employees and keeps employees engaged at work.”

The survey found the average procurement salary increased by 5.3% to £45,159, in comparison to a average UK salary increase of 2.7%, with almost three quarters (72%) of respondents receiving a salary increase in 2018, up four percentage points on 2017.

Regionally, procurement professionals in London continue to receive the highest salaries, but the North West of England saw the largest average salary increase of 7.8%, as blue chip and financial services companies take advantage of lower overheads and more available office space in the region.

The Salary Guide also identified the value of CIPS qualifications, with MCIPS professionals earning on average 15% more than their non-qualified counterparts, up two percentage points on 2018.

CIPS group CEO Malcolm Harrison said: “There is nothing more important that any organisation than your people. Yes, you have to make sure that you attract the best people but you've also got to make sure that you can motivate and retain them.

“One of the ways that you do that when they deliver consistently, day in day out, is to make sure that you are rewarding them fairly.”

SM will be covering the full Salary Guide in depth in the June issue. You can also request a copy of the full report from Hays.

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