The Power of Procurement for Gender Equity



When we think of gender equality in the workplace, the gender split of full time employees is usually what comes to mind. But what about suppliers?

Your influence over procurement and the ability to decide what work is ordered from whom gives you a unique power.

‘Never under estimate the power of influence you have over those you do business with’, says Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

‘If we don’t start investing in female owned businesses, were not being fair. We’re also not being smart because investing in female-owned businesses will generate millions in economic growth.’

Ensuring gender equity in procurement isn’t rocket science, either. Here’s how you can get started today.

Assess your position

Make a list of all suppliers you’ve worked with in the past year. In advertising, for example, it might be photographers; freelance writers, designers, illustrators and animators; directors and producers; food stylists; wardrobe; sound production and caterers for a shoot.

Can you report a gender equitable split among these suppliers? If not, roll up your sleeves because it’s time to set some targets.

Try it before you knock it

Stephen Surjan is the Head of Operations at Roberts Pizzarotti, a boutique construction company. Being in a male dominated industry, he’s probably heard every excuse in the book to avoid on-boarding women. But Surjan stands firm: ‘buck that trend of saying something can’t be done… try doing that first before you say it can’t be done and you may see that it does work.’

If a construction company can do it, so can you.

Check your suppliers’ legal obligations

The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 requires non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (more on that here). If your suppliers match the above description and take gender equality seriously, they will be able to supply you with their WGEA letter of compliance. Ask for it.

Put gender on the tender

If your suppliers aren’t obliged to report to WGEA, you can still set targets for tenders at all levels. Ask about their EEO policies, do an annual audit and mandate things like gender pay equity and 5-day week projects to accommodate working parents.

These things can galvanise those who aspire to positive change, and solidify your relationships with like-minded businesses.

Innovate ways to track and enforce

Australian mining giant BHP created a dashboard for all of its suppliers, allowing them to monitor gender equitable compliance in real time. If a supplier dips below the target levels, then it’s more difficult for them to go for contract renewal. What bespoke solutions can you create to help your business track and enforce gender equality?

Start with a 30% target

‘30% women on the board of directors is the proportion where critical mass is reached to create a change’, say Alanna Bastin-Byrne & Jade Collins, founders of Femeconomy.

‘In Australian, superannuation retirement funds with 30% women in leadership outperformed male dominated funds by $7billion over 3 years.

30% women is the tipping point to create a change.’

Could you achieve at least 30% staff and suppliers by the end of the fiscal year?

We think you can.

References:

Oxenbridge, S and Galea, N. (2020). Gender equitable procurement: Insight paper and guide, WGEA Commissioned Research Paper.

Bastin-Byrne, A. and Collins, J. (2018). Femeconomy: Move gender equality into hyperdrive with purse power, TEDxQUT.