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How can procurement lead on equality, diversity and inclusion?

Teams with varied perspectives are proven to excel, so we asked some of the CIPS Procurement Power List 2021 how procurement leaders can build inclusive environments and harness diverse teams

 

klaus staubitzer

Klaus Staubitzer, CPO, Siemens

Initiating change from the bottom up invites more voices and instills confidence in transformation

To manage a transformation process you have different levers you should use, and one big lever is digitisation, but you can only implement that if people see it as an opportunity instead of a threat. This is fundamental to a successful outcome. Back in 2015-2016 we were considering how we work through our different digital labs, where you get to try out new technologies and choose which ones to accelerate with funding. Typically in our organisation, we create a master plan, then roll it out from the top-down. So in these labs we invited our younger talents to be part of that digital innovation and they said, look, wouldn’t it be better if we try to implement change on a bottom-up approach? Because sometimes with top-down, the fear of the people to implement it may be bigger than the idea. Also, when change comes from the top, people can be scared to voice their concerns or disagreement for fear of losing their job.

So to help share ideas we created a self-run, volunteer network of four or five workers who invited other people to meet to talk about digitisation and how it can help make their business environment easier, more efficient etc. We sat together on a sofa and talked through pitches and if there was a cool idea, they talked about how we could engage the organisation so everybody can use it and benefit from it. It was very unusual but more and more people wanted to take part from different levels of the business.

One of our young colleagues said: “Why don’t we try to do it YouTube style? I have my cell phone with me, why don’t we invite people on a global basis to talk about visualisation, their needs, questions, ideas?” This network started two years ago based on younger people sharing their ideas, and it’s grown to more than 500 people on a global basis – through this they developed mindset training and created their own learning platform.

When corona kicked in, these processes made it easier for us to communicate with our global people about their needs and challenges, which are different in India, the US, China or Europe. And if another transformation idea comes into mind we talk to our people, but not in the way we did it before that moves by levels and feels like an avalanche information process. This way takes a little longer because you have to go deep into the organisation to convince people of change and it’s a while before you get to critical mass. And it also needs a level of trust in the organisation and in transparency. It's a complete mind shift.

 

stephen day

Stephen Day, CPO, Kantar

Drive social mobility through choice of language and communicating the opportunities available

I inherited no procurement team and am scaling up to around 40 people, so we’re building in diversity from the get-go. It’s harder than you might think. ED&I is more challenging when it comes to factors you can’t immediately see, for instance gender. You can’t ask – or assume – certain things about people but when we tried to move to blind CVs, our corporate computer wouldn’t allow us to do that. But how we use language makes a difference; we can be allies, be as welcoming as we can to let people know they are welcome in Kantar.

We’ve started to measure how many suppliers we think represents a “diverse” mix because one of the things we’re testing in the business is how much of our third-party spend we want to put into suppliers with the desirable characteristics, and actually measuring it. Some of the other things we’re doing include community outreach work because some suppliers just don’t know how to start doing business with big companies. We want to simplify our processes but we can lose our empathy of what it’s like to face a 20-page financial document of how to tender apprenticeships.

Kantar has a great procurement apprenticeship scheme already, so I reached out to people in central London and thought, well let’s go to kids with disadvantaged backgrounds and create opportunities for them. We’re working with an apprenticeship company to identify kids that come from a wide variety of disadvantaged backgrounds. We’re currently interviewing and about to make offers to two people to apprentice with us for two years. This will expose the wonders of this profession to a new community of talent who may not have thought it was open to them. And what they will do for us is give us the ability to have a lot more empathy. Sometimes what we’re missing is the ability to build processes with language that is inclusive, and not exclusive.

And through working with people with different backgrounds we hope it could pinpoint areas where we need to improve, where perhaps the way we phrase or present things or how we create our requirements is not creating the inclusive environment we’re seeking, and there may be other ways to do things differently. You can’t treat this as a bureaucratic activity, you really have to make it part of your sourcing activity. A lot of companies appoint ED&I ambassadors, but to make a real difference we need to structurally make changes in our daily processes.

 

Janelle Orzoco

Janelle Orzoco, CPO, Diageo

Supplier identification lets you align and measure diversity goals to grow more relationships

Six years ago we launched an ED&I programme in North America, which has almost tripled our spend with diverse suppliers and tripled our spend with female-owned suppliers. We’re not looking at one specific supplier but have increased the number of diverse suppliers we’re working with by 70%. It’s about identification, developing those relationships, and having the right frameworks and measurements in place. Recently, we launched our global end-to-end value chain ED&I ambition to more than double our spend by 2025, which is something we’re really proud of. One of our biggest challenges was how do you align on a definition of diversity, how do you set this up globally – it’s a lot of effort but we set up the baseline globally that enables us to say we’ll hit that ambition in the next four years.

Our primary target is ensuring suppliers are owned and operated by whatever diversity grouping is appropriate for that market, then we look across the area of spend to find where there are more opportunities and create higher targets there than for business areas where diversity is not as prevalent. Identification also helps us spot more unique opportunities, for example, we’re building a distillery in Kentucky where the corn maize is supplied by a woman-owned farm and the barrels from a black-owned lumber company.

To do this, we collaborate closely with partners to try to identify those diverse suppliers and then start those relationships. If the company isn’t at a place where it can work with us yet, we aim to help them develop to that point.

For Diageo, our goal leadership target is to be 50% female by 2030; my leadership team globally is 50% female so we’re already there. We’re trying to create an environment where we can get the best out of everyone, to create a diverse and inclusive culture where people can bring their ideas and use their different backgrounds every day. When we started six years ago we were able to tap into a moment that was already happening within Diageo – we had diversity groups and counsels, different ambitions, so adding in supplier diversity and targets was part of the overall cultural ambition.

As a conduit between the organisation and stakeholders, procurement has a unique point in the value chain and it’s our responsibility as leaders to be in those conversations early on, as early as is possible, to ensure we are helping to influence the business for the better.

 

Angela Qu

Angela Qu, CPO, Lufthansa

Embrace different perspectives and experience to develop high-performing teams with broad expertise

Diversity could help to change the perception of what we consider to be the ideal procurement manager and their characteristics. We are taught to have a poker face in negotiations, right, and not to be expressive. We’re trained into these biases, so we need to train ourselves to move away from them and understand how to use our different strengths to be authentic, empathetic, collaborative and inclusive.

To make procurement a place where everybody can bring their strengths and viewpoints, you need to ask – are you always looking for people who are like you, or are you looking for different personalities that can add to the team? We need to constantly challenge our own unconscious bias and, even during the interview process, look for people who can bring different experiences and mindsets. Forming these sorts of teams takes longer but afterwards, when people have had time to understand each other, diverse teams are higher performing than those where everybody thinks the same.

I deliberately hire people from different age groups for my teams to make sure I get levels of experience and fresh ideas. Some people are more digitally capable so I try to put them with those who aren’t, or if I have people good at marketing I put them with people who need to learn more about how to communicate. If I want to improve team performance, I need new ideas, to see things from different angles, to speak the language of the stakeholders – if I only have pure procurement people in my team I couldn’t connect with other parts of the business. So I need people who can build those bridges.

To achieve this it’s very important to rotate people around the business. Strategically, procurement should be a place where people come and go; they don’t have to be here for 20 years, they can transfer from other parts of the business, bringing that knowledge and thinking, and move on. This will make the function much more diverse.

I have also created a learning network for women to help women become more aware of areas where they need to improve, but it was a useful network and all genders wanted to join the group, and now do. Because in order to learn you need to understand yourself, to understand others and then how to cope with these differences. This is a long process, and I am not the expert in all of these areas, but it’s important for us to lead by example.

 

Matt Swindall

Matt Swindall, CPO, Britvic

Embedding inclusive practices into daily processes leads to a cultural change for the whole business

We know that to meet the needs of our consumers and thrive as a business, our workforce must be as diverse as the markets we serve – and we know this is the right thing to do. Diversity and inclusion are not limited to procurement but cover everything we do, from updating our responsible marketing code and being mindful of the influencers we work with to ensuring diversity within our advertising, and organising online sessions with more than 600 young people to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Typically, or at least historically, the majority of colleagues working in our factories were male. We’ve been working hard to address this with change coming from the top. In 2020 we achieved 40% women in leadership roles and are now working towards 50% by no later than 2025. In procurement we have been leading the way. Our workforce is LGBTQI+ inclusive, has broad ethnic diversity and an almost even split when it comes to gender. One of the practical ways we have set about achieving the latter is by making sure all job interviews are conducted by a male and female panel.

We have a belonging programme called B-Yourself, comprising four network groups: B-Proud for LGBTQ+ colleagues and straight allies, B-Seen to champion disability and diverse ability, B-Empowered for women in the workplace and B-Diverse for black, asian and minority ethnic colleagues. This visible, grassroots representation ensures we hear about the issues that really matter to people and to make sure change actually happens, plus each group has a network sponsor who is a member of the Britvic executive.

All good work begins with communication, which is why we pioneered our Working Well programme. A simple post-pandemic approach of two fixed days in the office and the rest working from home doesn’t offer the flexibility our diverse workforce requires. That’s why Working Well can be adapted to meet the needs of individual teams, and not just those traditionally based in the office, but also in factories and on the road as well.

Communication is vital and all good business decisions will always be based on data – so once we’ve heard what our colleagues need, we believe that setting meaningful, measurable targets and reporting on them regularly is a great way to hold ourselves accountable.

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