It was a miserable evening weatherwise, thanks to the current wet spell visiting England’s capital. However, the procurement profession’s female representatives were undeterred and last night gathered in force at the Barbican-based offices of law firm Linklaters to network.
On this occasion, members of the Blueprint club (a female-focused networking group for purchasing professionals) had come to hear about supplier diversity from Shirley Cooper, WEConnect International’s executive director for Europe and former CIPS president. She argued that more women-owned businesses should be given the opportunity to become part of organisations’ supply chains.
Over pink bubbly and hors d’oeuvres, Blueprint members got acquainted with one another, as well as a number of women attending who own SMEs.
The night moved on and although I’d not had many glasses of the pink stuff myself, I began to see double as I listened to a joint presentation from Shirley Cooper and her twin sister Janet. Janet is a board member at UN Women UK NC the UK National Committee of a number of national committees around the globe that work on behalf of UN Women.
Notable attendees included the branch secretary for CIPS in Zimbabwe, Francesca Nyamukapa. She contributed to a lively debate on the struggles of women trying to progress their career, describing how she seized the opportunity to fight her corner in a male dominated environment during a chance meeting with her boss and persuaded him to put her purchasing skills and qualifications to good use in the procurement department.
In a room of 50 women there were three men. I asked one, Michael Winslow, founding partner of New Dawn Partners, what he thought of the event. “Many companies are missing the value a woman can bring,” he said. “When I worked as procurement director at Cable & Wireless 20 years ago, I had to create a new team. I kept finding the best candidate was a woman and I ended up recruiting six in six months. I don’t agree with quotas. Men and women both have unique capabilities. Women are more emotionally aware than men and make the best negotiators. Why do you think the last two US foreign secretaries have been women?”
Women shouldn’t be underestimated, he added.
Sign up to join the Blueprint Club’s LinkedIn group here