International Women’s Day 2023 #EmbraceEquity

Celebrate women’s achievements. Raise awareness about discrimination. Take action to drive gender parity.

IWD belongs to everyone, everywhere. Inclusion means all IWD action is valid.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, Procurement Heads spoke to leaders from across procurement to get their thoughts on equity.

“If you’re just starting your career, unsure of the path you want to take, try procurement!

“It pulls on so many soft and technical skills that after a few years in the profession if you wanted to be an Analyst – you can; go into legal – you can; a Consultant/Advisor – you can; a Project Manager – you can; go into transformation/continuous improvement- you can; be a people leader – you can (and that’s just to name a few).

“It’s important to have your own network. I’m not just talking about internal stakeholders or external peers in the industry but find your ‘people’.

“Find and stick close to those you admire, those who demonstrate the type of leader you’d like to be, those who are pushing for change and equity; those who give you their time listens, advises and sponsors without asking for anything in return.

“You attract what you are, so invest time in being the best version of you.”

Danielle Douglas, Head of Procurement, Clifford Chance

“The latest Women in Workplace report published by LeanIn & McKinsey suggests that for every female executive promoted to a senior position, two decide to leave their organisations and they are walking away at higher rates than men.

“This phenomenon, called ‘The Great Break-Up’ is a consequence of women demanding a more bias-free and inclusive working environment, where their efforts and ambitions are recognised.

“With a strong commitment to D&I why are companies not able to step up to deliver on that?

“International Women’s Day 2023’s #EmbraceEquity campaign theme aims to drive our reflection on ‘Why equal opportunities aren’t enough’ to drive sustainable progress.  

“In operations, we often refer to focusing on input measures as an effective way to drive desired output.

“From this perspective, while EQUALITY is the outcome, due to our differences and uniqueness, EQUITY in our actions is what can get us there.

“But the key enabler for this transformation process to happen is highly inclusive and diverse leadership teams ready to be called out on biases, challenged on stereotypes and courageous enough to take risks.

“More importantly we need such leaders here and now, not in a pipeline for future succession.

“It is natural to feel occasionally disheartened with the progress, but it is collective activism that can drive the change.

“I truly believe that our words, actions, and commitment to building an equitable workspace for women matter. I #EmbraceEquity”

Magdalena Shakallis, Head of Procurement – West (Americas, Europe and Africa), at British American Tobacco.

“The moment we realise our full potential based on who we really are is the moment we reached a breakthrough as a society.

“Human eyes see gender, skin colour, race… We decide to look at individuals through lenses that carry so many elements to classify people in ‘boxes’ where ‘they belong’.

“Stereotyping and discrimination are hindering factors for a healthy world in which anyone can unleash their true potential without fear, embarrassment or shame.

“As a woman working in senior leadership roles throughout my career, I have experienced both silent and unswerving misogyny and discrimination.

“They are both very palpable no matter how they are unpacked. 

“I know for a fact that some women will shrink, hide or even question their potential or sense of belonging in these spheres.

“But I also have had the privilege through my journey to meet women that amazingly use these barriers as their stepping stones leading them to higher places, not as their dead-ends.

“Today, I want to congratulate all women that are brave and bold to live their lives freely.

“My heart goes to all women that in the current century still need to fight for freedom and basic rights that are consistently denied based on their gender.

“Keep going, you are not alone and you will succeed.

“A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination needs to be established.

“Together we can move mountains!

“You were born a woman and that is sufficient in itself to celebrate your brilliant existence every day when the sun rises.

“Happy International Women’s Day!”

Rachel Lemos, Executive Director, Supply Chain BC Ferries

“International Women’s Day is a welcome date for me every year as it prompts us to stop and take stock to consider the role we can all play to help make a more gender-balanced world.

“It isn’t about women succeeding at the expense of men, but about how we work together to create a culture where everyone has the right to respect, belong and reach their full potential regardless of gender.

“Collectively, we can all forge positive change and I am heartened to see this year’s theme recognise how important the role of equity is, and see the language shift from equality.

“There is much to do to change the shift across procurement and the industries we work in so that when we think ED&I, we are referring to equity and not equality as we have historically done. 

“People really do start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action to be taken.

“The visual that really resonates to explain the difference between equality and equity is one that shows three people of different heights all getting the same sized box to stand on to watch a sports game showing what equality means.

“To depict equity it then shows the same three people, but with parity being created to provide different size boxes so they all end up being the same height.

“Being a petite female, who experiences the height disadvantage regularly going about my daily activities, this meme is a really powerful and simple way of demonstrating the difference.

“Driving equity needs to become a part of our working life DNA, and we all need to recognise barriers that are faced when everyone doesn’t have the same starting position or parity to support their careers.

“Driving equity and increasing female representation in the procurement function is a business imperative; it is crucial that we continue to drive diversity, inclusion and belonging every day, working to break down barriers and attract more women into our function

“Procurement remains an agile, dynamic and fast-paced function which continues to stretch, challenge and reward us as individuals.

“We have come a long way from procurement being seen as a male-dominated environment, and it’s fantastic to see such positive, fearless, female role models in senior procurement leadership roles, continuing to trailblaze and demonstrate that you can be successful whilst still being authentic to your true self and leading in a way that comes naturally

“Let’s celebrate IWD to generate the required discussions, but let’s also remain cognisant about how we keep the conversation going all year round so it is a regular drumbeat, where biases are constantly being challenged and we actively drive to create parity and equity.”

Mukta Hashmi, Procurement Lead, Balfour Beatty

“Your voice is important and have faith that we genuinely want to hear from you.

“You have so much value to deliver in all that you do.

“You may feel though that in your working life, the playing field for you to be heard is not equitable.

“Some women may find they are struggling to navigate the challenges from preconceived ideas, stereotypes and bias, whether they be conscious or sub-conscious.

“A common one is ‘assertive’ versus ‘aggressive’.

“Women can be seen as the more negative version of this when they speak up.

“So how do you have your voice heard effectively in a world where these pre-conceived notions are still around?

“Around you are amazing women that do it really well, and the great news is we have plenty of wonderful role models and mentors in the world.

“Take a moment to notice what they do that keeps you focused on the message and not their gender.

“How are they communicating, listen to their tone, and their word choices, watch the body language and notice how you and others feel as they deliver their message and what impact it has.

“This positive role modelling is one great way to learn and improve.

“Practice is another, we can all strengthen our skills by keeping at it till we find a rhythm and style that is enabling us to be heard and all the people listening are focused on our message.

“Equity is possible, you are part of the solution and know that we want to hear your voice.”

Julie Smith, Mentor and CEO of JCS Global Partners

“Equity is to enable, accommodate and build on difference.

“Enable: Make it possible for fellow women to be the best versions of themselves by creating an environment where everyone’s contribution is valued.

“Accommodate: Set each other up for success through sharing of knowledge, mentoring and positive feedback.

“Build on difference: Acknowledging each other strengths and weaknesses and working together to build positively on the differences.

“We are seeking to attract more women into sourcing and procurement, but without equity, it will be a challenge.

“Women in general have more challenges in the workplace but it certainly does not affect our ability to deliver and meet deadlines.  

“We must acknowledge the diverse challenges that women face and implement initiatives to support so the women can become the best versions of themselves.”

Tchiya Makasa, Global Sourcing Lead, JLL

“Gender equity will bring about gender equality!

“What this means for us as humans, is that different opportunities should be given that fit the specific needs of the individual in such a way that we can reach an equal outcome.

“Our superpower in the world is our individual uniqueness, authenticity and all the different backgrounds views and skills we bring to the table irrespective of gender.

“Equity harnesses this on a needs basis that will help to create equality for everyone.

“Equity has to come first before equality will be the result.”

Carla Ford, Group Procurement Director, INEOS Enterprises

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