Crossing the great “ism” expanse in procurement

Posted on September 30, 2021


Editor’s Note: In this excerpt from a Procurement Foundry post, I talk about the age of the “ism” and what it means to procurement.

“Can someone, anyone, please explain the theory of ageism in Procurement & Sourcing and its logic?” – Michael Cadieux, LinkedIn Rant

For anyone who has worked in procurement, it’s likely that you’ve come across some type of discrimination. Unfortunately, an “ism” is something with which we all have either direct or indirect experience.

We can all acknowledge and agree that any “ism” be it sexism, racism, or ageism, are challenges we must address. But recognizing a problem and determining that something needs to be done is not enough.

As fellow procurement industry member, Michael, so aptly put it in his LinkedIn rant, “If the basic building block of sourcing and negotiation for cost optimization and risk avoidance is knowledge, and knowledge takes time and experience to gain, why on earth would anyone want to discriminate on older practitioners with more knowledge?”

Why indeed.

In this post, we will attempt to bring greater clarity to procurement’s three great isms. Not to point an accusatory finger or shame anyone, but to start a necessary conversation in hopes of bringing these important issues to light. Specifically, we will look at sexism, racism, and ageism through an empathetic lens of self-reflection.

Sexism (Gender Discrimination)

In a recent Procurement in 5-Minutes segmentPPD‘s Paula Varner answered the question: 

Why do we need more female leaders in Procurement?

Unsurprisingly, there was considerable enthusiasm in the responses to her commentary. While some were of personal experience, the response from listeners quickly moved beyond empirical evidence and anecdotal references to include actual statistics.

For example, while the pay gap between procurement professionals on the frontlines has narrowed considerably, the pay gap between men and women in procurement widens as women move up the ladder. In short, the higher the position, the more significant the pay gap.

It is almost as if women are being penalized for their success rather than rewarded.

Given this information, we believe that this gap must be bridged and full parity must be created at the executive level. True change begins at the top of the organization so it must be set as the standard from leadership before it can filter down to and throughout the entire enterprise. 

Use the following link to read the entire article has we tackle the issues of racism (supplier diversity) and ageism (cost versus value).

Posted in: Commentary