Purchasing manager is eighth least ethnically diverse role

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
13 March 2017

A ranking of occupations by level of ethnic diversity has placed senior procurement professionals in the bottom 10.

The report, by Policy Exchange, ranked 202 occupations in England and Wales using data from the 2015 Labour Market Survey.

‘Purchasing managers and directors’ are ranked 195, with minorities making up 6.9% of the workforce, of which 4.6% are non-white.

The less senior ‘buyers and procurement officers’ are placed at number 60 out of 202, with minorities making up 21.1% and 8.7% are non-white.

CIPS described the results as ‘disappointing’ and said more needed to be done otherwise the profession risked becoming ‘irrelevant’.

The most ethnically diverse occupation is taxi driver, according to the report, followed by dental practitioner and packer. The least diverse job is farmer, followed by environment professional and animal care services.

“Britain has experienced significant ethnic change since the 1950s, and especially since the late 1990s, as immigration has increased,” said Policy Exchange. “However, our new-found ethnic diversity has not been evenly distributed across all sectors of the economy.

“Some occupations have become more diverse than the country as a whole, others have experienced little change, and some minorities have become particularly concentrated in certain sectors.”

A CIPS spokesman said: “These results are disappointing and it’s evident that progress towards equality and diversity is slow.

“As the report states, highly skilled roles (such as procurement) are often supported by academic qualifications, which may be more challenging to achieve amongst some ethnic groups because of financial or social constraints.

“We must do more to support those who have these challenges otherwise we lose the appeal and influence of the profession to improve society, economies and ultimately develop strong businesses.

“This is exactly the reason the CIPS Foundation was set up. It seeks to reduce these diversity gaps by supporting talented individuals in a range of ethnic groups but there’s such a long way to go.

“Supplier diversity is better understood in the profession and the impact it has on individuals and business. Suppliers can see the business from the outside and often have constructive advice which encourages innovative practices. That should be the same for procurement professionals – diverse, rich in insight and creative. Otherwise, we risk the profession becoming irrelevant and constrained.”

Mayank Shah, founder and CEO of MSDUK, a non-profit organisation that promotes supplier diversity, said: “When I started in 2006 most of the procurement organisations were white male dominated but as I look around now, in certain industries, professional services, financial institutions, the procurement organisations are much more diverse. There are more women, more young people.

“I’m not saying we’ve solved the issue but in certain industries it has changed.”

Sustainability attraction

A focus on sustainability is making the procurement profession more attractive to young people, said Shah. “Sustainability coming into procurement, it’s more interesting to graduates,” he said. “More and more young people are looking at procurement as an interesting career.”

Harish Bhayani, senior partner at PRM Diversity Consultants, said: “The data seems to be in line with everything we know about societal demographics and diversity drivers.

“I think people struggle to understand the value of employment diversity, let alone supplier diversity.

“Having more diversity among procurement managers would certainly do no harm in respect of that.”

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