Part 2: Insights into gender diversity in procurement


Jigsaw Talent Management, the leading consultancy for the assessment, development and acquisition of procurement talent, has released a fascinating report: ‘Trends in Gender Diversity within the Australian Procurement Industry 2012-2015’. Here, in part two we take a look at further insights offered in the report.

The Procurement Ladder
According to Jigsaw’s candidate data, women account for approximately 1/3 of the total Australian procurement candidates registered. Whilst this ratio is relatively consistent from the junior through to middle management level roles such as procurement analyst, vendor manager and category management roles, only 21% (1/3 less) of leadership roles are currently occupied by women.

If we apply this to the wider procurement industry it can be concluded that women make up 1/3 of the total workforce in procurement and therefore if HR departments are putting together KPI’s on gender diversity a 1:3 ratio of women to men would be realistic.

However many clients are requesting shortlists that have a 1:1 gender ratio when recruiting procurement roles, which could ultimately lead to misguided and detrimental hiring decisions.

Interestingly women are on average consistently paid about 4%-5% less at each level of seniority in procurement.

Procurement Leaders
According to Jigsaw’s technical capability data both genders have stakeholder management and business diagnosis as their most developed skills. Men as a group displayed better results in the vertical of negotiation where woman demonstrated higher scores in decision making. Interestingly, skills that require development (supplier management, market analysis and risk management) were identical producing relatively low scores for both genders.

Category Management & Vendor Management

Scores are identical for both genders in both the most developed and least developed capabilities. It seems that technically there is little or no difference between the genders so there shouldn’t be any preference for men or women when it comes to hiring for procurement capability. What the information does suggest is that there may be a wider issue with the procurement industry itself. Advancements need to be made in the up-skilling of all procurement professionals (regardless of their gender) to try to increase the skill levels of the under-developed capabilities. This is not evidenced solely from these results, but also from feedback we receive from our clients.

If we look at the skills that are poorly represented they include strategy, risk, supplier management and market analysis. These are the skills that take practitioners from being transactional and heavily process focused or ‘back end operators’ to thought leaders and performance enhancers that add value and impact business performance that board members will recognise.


Both men and women appear to be skilled at presenting analytical information and not so skilled at the actual calculations they are producing.

Male analysts have Data Interpretation as a strength whereas the same capability is under-developed for women. The reverse is true for Data Extraction (the ability to find and gather information) where this is a strength for women but not for men.

Emotional Reasoning
Jigsaw’s Emotional Reasoning Questionnaire (ERQ) was developed by an independent psychological assessment company in order to provide our consultants with another tool to highlight that a candidate shortlisted for a role by Jigsaw possesses the threshold level of emotional reasoning required to undertake procurement and supply chain roles.

Overall our results suggest that our candidates have the well-developed ability to identify emotions in work colleagues and clients, and to predict their future emotions and actions. They appear to be able to interact very well with other people, and are likely to be able to judge others’ emotional state and respond appropriately.

Across every level of seniority women outperformed men in Jigsaw’s emotional reasoning assessment and were above the market average score by 3%. Men as a group scored 2% under the market average.
The biggest gap in emotional reasoning was to be found in procurement leaders where women outperformed men by 8% and there was also a clear 5% gap in the next level of seniority, Category Management.

Take Away Points

Based on the information Jigsaw has collected and maintains the data suggests:
* Whereas the ratio of men to women working in procurement is 3:1 for senior leadership roles that ratio is nearer 5:1.
* Setting gender diversity levels of 1:1 in procurement is disproportionate to the actual diversity split of 3:1.
* There is very little if any difference between the skills capabilities of men and women in procurement and at all levels.
* Women are consistently paid 4%-5% less than men in procurement and at all levels.
* Women occupying senior/leadership roles in procurement appear to have more highly-developed Emotional Reasoning skills.

Read this report and further insights in the Market Reports section of Jigsaw’s website:

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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