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Resources  /  Blog  /  Inspiring Inclusion: The Transformative Role of Women in Procurement

Inspiring Inclusion: The Transformative Role of Women in Procurement

March 8, 2024
As we celebrate International Women’s Month 2024, the spotlight shines on the progress toward equality and the continued journey for inclusive growth within the professional sphere. This year’s theme, Inspire Inclusion, resonates profoundly across various industries, with procurement emerging as a beacon for positive change. The road to inclusion is built on understanding, valuing, and empowering women, fostering a sense of belonging that transcends the confines of the traditional workplace narrative.

The Pulse of Progress in Procurement

Procurement, a field historically dominated by men, now showcases a promising trend toward gender balance and leadership diversity. According to the Global Women Procurement Professionals (GWPP), women now occupy 38% of roles within procurement, including 25% in leadership—a testament to the evolving landscape.

A report by Procurement Heads highlights an 11% increase in females placed in procurement roles from January to September 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. These figures not only reflect a shift in hiring practices but also emphasize the unique contributions women bring to the sector.

Driving Innovation Through Diversity

The presence of women in procurement has widened the decision-making horizon, integrating diverse perspectives that kindle innovation. The variety of backgrounds and experiences women bring to the table prompts fresh approaches to solving challenges and crafting strategies.

  • Diversity of Thought: Women leaders in procurement bring varied viewpoints that challenge the status quo, fostering creativity and new solutions.
  • Inclusive Leadership: Embracing inclusive hiring broadens the talent pool, ensuring organizations benefit from a blend of insights that drive forward-thinking procurement practices.

Individual Voices, Collective Echoes

Throughout International Women’s Month, Arkestro sat down with several accomplished women across the organization to unearth what Inspire Inclusion personally signifies to them. Their narratives are windows into the lived experiences from which all can draw inspiration.

I think it is important to foster a collaborative environment where we promote empathy, and appreciation for different perspectives. Creating diverse teams that work together to solve problems, make decisions, and achieve common goals will promote an environment where everyone can thrive.

Caroline Cioe

Regional Vice President of Sales

How do you strike a balance between work, life and family as a working woman in your corporate career?
Balancing work, life, and family can be challenging especially when balancing 3 college aged children, a marriage of 20 years and our dog, Juice. For me, It is important to be organized and to prioritize my activities in order to be efficient and productive. I am also big on quality over quantity and always try to make the most of the time I have together by being fully present and engaged. Yoga and long walks are also key to keeping my stress levels in check.

What empowers you to keep moving forward in your role and over the life of your time in the industry?
I am passionate about helping customers transform and find value using the latest technology. Working for companies like Arkestro that push the envelope with innovation is exciting and energizing.

With this year’s theme being #InspireInclusion, in your opinion, what can we do more of to include and empower others?
I think it is important to foster a collaborative environment where we promote empathy, and appreciation for different perspectives. Creating diverse teams that work together to solve problems, make decisions, and achieve common goals will promote an environment where everyone can thrive.

Have you encountered any difficulties in your career/education due to gender discrimination?
Throughout my career I have encountered obstacles in various professional settings due to gender. I overcame the situations by relying on my abilities and merit.

What career advice would you give to aspiring female leaders in the sales field?
Establish a strong personal brand – it can and will differentiate you. Embrace confidence, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to speak up about your accomplishments. Sales can be challenging, develop resilience and practice persistence and perseverance, these are key traits of successful sales professionals. Lastly, always focus on building a strong network, it will open doors to new opportunities and provide valuable support.

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Gender should never be a differentiator in what you can do. Bring your confidence and perspectives. You are making a difference for yourself, the STEM field, and other women that are considering joining.

Shu Qian

Data Analyst

What, in your opinion, are some women empowerment initiatives taken by Arkestro that have given you the support needed in your role?
On Arkestro’s data team, we have a balanced female and male ratio. The culture is open, inclusive and supportive. We are encouraged to share our different thoughts and opinions.

How do you strike a balance between work, life and family as a working woman in a STEM career?
Working on something that excites me makes it easy to lose work/life balance. I have found that planning ahead and having a schedule are really helpful. Regardless of how busy I am, I will do my best to attend my pre-planned social and family events.

At Arkestro, we are encouraged to spend time on our passions and with our families. An enriched life drives creativity, which is crucial for developers. 

What empowers you to keep moving forward in your career and in the industry in general?
I made a career pivot two years ago. One of the many aspects that attracted me to data science is the continuous updating of concepts, models, and knowledge. In a way, I have to keep moving to grasp what is needed in this fast-evolving field. I set up training plans periodically so that I have clear objectives and a path to the areas I want to improve.

I have also been reminding myself to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ to new challenges and technologies. The feeling of finally mastering something I have been working on is satisfying.

What career advice have you received that’s been particularly valuable to you?
When I pivoted my career. There were plenty of times I felt lost and unsure about the training I was doing and if I could make it. As straightforward as it sounded, I pushed myself to connect with the Data Science community, take advice and adjust my training plans to move towards my goal. I am grateful that in the end I landed my dream job.

What advice would you give to women looking to join the male-dominated STEM field?
Gender should never be a differentiator in what you can do. Bring your confidence and perspectives. You are making a difference for yourself, the STEM field, and other women that are considering joining.

As an advocate and parent to a child on the autism spectrum, inclusion is my jam! There is SO much more we can do to #inspireinclusion. I firmly believe in taking concrete actions like actively listening to diverse perspectives, creating safe spaces for open dialogue and all voices to be heard, advocating for equitable opportunities, promoting diversity in leadership and hiring practices, and ensuring equal pay and career advancement opportunities.

Kait Ries

Head of Marketing Campaigns

What empowers you to keep moving forward in your role and over the life of your time in the industry?
My husband and sons are my rock, constantly encouraging me to push forward in my career. Their support boosts my confidence and helps me tackle any challenge that comes my way. As a working mom, I’m driven to show my sons that women can achieve anything!

Professionally, I’ve been with Arkestro (shout out to Bid Ops!) from the very beginning, fully invested in both the product and the positive impact it can have on sourcing and procurement. Through every twist and turn, I’ve been right there, embracing each pivot and overcoming obstacles. As a self-motivated go-getter, I thrive on seeing progress, results and hearing about happy customers. I am driven to continue making an impact to accelerate Arkestro’s growth!

How do you strike a balance between work, life and family as a working woman in your corporate career?
Balancing work, life, and family is all about setting boundaries, communicating needs, and prioritizing time. Flexibility, self-care, and staying organized are key to finding a rhythm. Honestly,  I’m still learning how to do this, but I have found that sticking to a schedule, and shutting my laptop and being done for the day helps. I love taking Peloton classes or walking the beach trail in San Clemente when I’m not working or mommin’!

With this year’s theme being #InspireInclusion, in your opinion, what can we do more of to include and empower others?
I love this question! As an advocate and parent to a child on the autism spectrum, inclusion is my jam! There is SO much more we can do to #inspireinclusion. I firmly believe in taking concrete actions like actively listening to diverse perspectives, creating safe spaces for open dialogue and all voices to be heard, advocating for equitable opportunities, promoting diversity in leadership and hiring practices, and ensuring equal pay and career advancement opportunities.

What career advice have you received that’s been particularly valuable to you?
My mother in law shared this quote with me from Abraham Lincoln and I think it’s perfect career advice: “Whatever you are, be a good one!”

What, in your opinion, are some women empowerment initiatives taken by Arkestro that have given you the support needed in your role?
Arkestro has been amazing in supporting me as a working mom, especially with a child who has disabilities. Life with a child like mine can be unpredictable, with doctor appointments, trips to the ER, school meetings and therapy sessions popping up unexpectedly, so flexibility is everything.

Arkestro gets that and gives me the freedom to handle these things while still trusting me to get my job done. It’s made a huge difference, allowing me to be there for my son while also excelling in my role.

When I came back from maternity leave, I needed a bit more time to get back into the swing of things, and it was totally understood. After coming back and while planning a conference in Las Vegas, I didn’t want to leave both my sons at home. Arkestro leaders let me bring my littlest one with me so I could check in on him and our nanny throughout the day (and eat pizza backstage on breaks).

Having that level of flexibility, trust, and understanding is invaluable to me. It truly makes a world of difference in how I juggle my work and family responsibilities empowering me to do both better!

My advice to others is to decide on your boundaries and what is important to you, and then be deliberate about how you spend your time while maintaining a certain amount of flexibility to be able to respond to what is needed. 

Anna O'Leary

Chief People Officer

What empowers you to keep moving forward in your role and over the life of your time in the industry?
A few things: Being a part of an organization where there is an opportunity to work alongside talented people and where I can have an impact and thrive in environments where I am continuously learning and pushing myself.

I believe that working in a People/HR team is a privilege and has provided me with an amazing opportunity to engage with employees and I am passionate about creating an environment where they can be the best version of themselves.

How do you strike a balance between work, life and family as a working woman in your corporate career?
It’s hard.  I am not sure that I have the right balance – I have always had a tendency to work hard and long hours. I believe that everyone has to set their own boundaries and decide what they want and can do – the definition of “balance” is different for everyone.  I am lucky to have strong support around me which enables me to do what I do.

In a way Covid, and the ability to have more flexibility around the location of my work, has had a huge, positive impact on my family. There are days that I can have breakfast and dinner with my daughter now, which just wasn’t on the cards when I was in the office 5 days a week! 

My advice to others is to decide on your boundaries and what is important to you, and then be deliberate about how you spend your time while maintaining a certain amount of flexibility to be able to respond to what is needed.  

What inspires you most about working in the human resources field?
People, people, people. The complexities and uniqueness of each individual – and their brilliance.

What career advice have you received that’s been particularly valuable to you?
Do what you like to do, but more importantly, do what you like to do with people you like.

What advice would you give to women looking to enter a leadership role?

  1. You will never have all the answers (this is not necessarily just for women!). It’s ok to say you don’t know.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and/or who bring something different to the table. Look for people who have a diverse perspective.
  3. No matter how much experience you have there is always an opportunity to learn and improve!

A piece of advice for anyone is to embrace a growth mindset. That means seeing challenges as opportunities for growth, viewing setbacks not as failures but as valuable lessons and striving for continuous learning.

Jana Boerger

Senior Data Scientist

What’s your role at Arkestro?
I’m a Senior Data Scientist here at Arkestro. My work focuses on leveraging data and machine learning to bring value to our customers. It’s a role that presents new challenges daily, keeping my work exciting. My work allows me to combine my love for supply chain management and data science with our mission to drive better buying decisions for our customers.

What career advice have you received that’s been particularly valuable to you?
A piece of advice for anyone is to embrace a growth mindset. That means seeing challenges as opportunities for growth, viewing setbacks not as failures but as valuable lessons and striving for continuous learning. Simply said it means telling oneself “I have not learned that yet / I don’t have enough practice in X yet” rather than “I’m bad at X”. I recommend the book Mindset by Carol Dweck on the topic.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the STEM field?
When you start a new job, don’t assume that you don’t know anything valuable or cannot contribute. Many folks hold back too long while they think they are still onboarding. You see things where team members might have blind spots. You can start creating quickly and bring value to the team.

What did you dream of doing when you were a little girl?
A tourist. And then I realized that that’s not a career. Later I wanted to do something with math. I would say I succeeded on both counts.

What is your proudest achievement while working at Arkestro?
Over the last three months, our data development team has embraced scrum cycles, increasing visibility and predictability of our work which ultimately will lead us to building better data products faster. As the scrum master I guided the team through the process. I’m also proud to have introduced a data tool to Arkestro that allows us to have a clear understanding of dependencies and traceability of the data sets that we build and use.

Inspire inclusion women

Embracing Inclusion Beyond Words

Celebrating International Women’s Day transcends a momentary gesture—it requires sustained action and commitment to cultivate inclusive workplaces where women thrive. Here are actionable steps organizations and professionals can take:

  • Forge Economic Empowerment: Offer equal pay for equal work and remove barriers to entry and advancement in the procurement field.
  • Develop Female Talent: Implement training programs and mentorship that specifically support the advancement of women within procurement roles.
  • Promote Leadership: Encourage women to pursue and attain roles at the helm, not only filling positions but also shaping company culture.
  • Design Inclusive Infrastructure: Construct systems and processes that accommodate the needs and strengths of a diverse workforce.
  • Facilitate Decision-Making Capabilities: Empower women to be part of critical discussions, harnessing their insights and fostering a culture of shared ownership.

Continuing the Momentum

While significant strides have been made, the quest for full inclusion in procurement and all fields continues. This International Women’s Month serves as a clarion call to spotlight the unwavering force of women in procurement and the pivotal role they play in enhancing industry standards and practices.

Stepping into a future where equality is the norm, the collective efforts of communities, organizations, and individuals in championing women’s inclusion carve out a more balanced, innovative, and empowered world for all.

Remember: Inclusion starts with individual action. How will you #InspireInclusion today?

FAQs

Why is gender equality significant in the procurement industry?

Gender equality fosters diverse perspectives, drives innovation, and ensures fair representation and opportunities for women in procurement roles.

What progress has been made in achieving gender balance in procurement?

According to GWPP, women now hold 38% of procurement roles and 25% of leadership positions, indicating a positive shift towards gender diversity.

How does diversity in procurement drive innovation?
Diverse perspectives in procurement lead to innovative solutions, as women contribute unique backgrounds and experiences that spark creativity and fresh approaches.
What does "Inspire Inclusion" mean in the context of International Women's Month?
“Inspire Inclusion” signifies promoting understanding, valuing, and empowering women in the professional sphere, fostering a sense of belonging and equality.
How can organizations empower women in procurement roles?
Organizations can empower women through equal pay, tailored training programs, mentorship opportunities, and promoting women into leadership positions.