Women Leaders in Procurement: Insights from WSP Panel #2
By Mackenzie Oakley | May 18, 2021
Find insights from the first panel of Women Shaping Procurement here.
We’re recapping the second panel of our Women Shaping Procurement event series with more solid advice and insights from some of the most influential leaders in procurement and sourcing.
In the second session, now available on Youtube, we spoke with Sarah Scudder, President of Real Sourcing Network, Stephany Lapierre, CEO of Tealbook, and Madison L. Mobley, Head of Belonging, Inclusion, & Culture at Fairmarkit to discuss:
- Their biggest inspirations,
- gender diversity in the workplace,
- the importance of building a personal brand,
- and how to be a good ally.
Inspiring career success
We kickstarted this discussion with these leaders in procurement by asking each panelist to speak about the people who have inspired their career successes.
Women inspiring women
Stephany Lapierre has long been surrounded by strong and inspiring women, starting with her grandmother.
After her grandfather’s death, Stephany’s grandmother assumed responsibility for running a bottling and distribution business for Pepsi-Cola. “She hadn’t worked a day in her life and she had three kids,” explains Stephany. “But she figured she’d be able to earn a living and provide for her kids, rather than selling [the business] and trying to figure out how to generate income down the line.”
“Since then, my network has been filled with so many impressive, independent, inspiring, kind, available, and generous women that I can’t pick one.”
Encouraging and advocating for change
Sarah Scudder has been most inspired by two of her former managers.
The first offered her a job when she was in her senior year and taught her several important lessons in her 20s. “He believed education does not define you, he taught me the importance of hiring for soft skills and hiring kind people. He would always tell me there is no room for mean people in the business world. He was also a huge advocate for getting more women into our company and into procurement.”
Sarah’s second manager did four key things to help her:
- He told her what she needed to hear; not what she wanted to hear.
- He taught the importance of asking for and giving brutally honest feedback.
- He went out of his way to coach and help people.
- He consistently performed acts of kindness without expecting anything in return.
Strong role models in the home
Madison Mobley was most inspired by her parents. “I was one of those kids growing up who had no plans of being part of corporate America,” she explains. “My dad’s first job out of school was with IBM as a salesperson.” Madison observed him climbing the corporate ladder and how her family’s quality of life improved as a result. She also learned a lot through osmosis about the art of doing business and doing it well. “He has been a huge inspiration to me,” she says.
Madison’s mother was a homemaker who ensured Madison and her younger siblings had endless support when they were growing up, all the way into adulthood. “The partnership my parents built was incredible. Looking back, I truly grew up in a home where I had the best of both worlds – everything they shared with me contributed to the professional and person I am today.”
Achieving gender diversity in the workplace
Tealbook’s overall gender split, including on the board of directors, is 50/50, with the executive team comprised of 60% women and 40% men. “It hasn’t been difficult,” says Stephany. “I think being a woman founder has attracted talent.”
Stephany is determined to advance and maintain gender equality at Tealbook. The company will always recruit a woman when faced with two equally qualified candidates for a role. “It’s happened three times since January and I’m really proud of our executive team for always making that conscious decision,” she says.
For organizations looking to overhaul their gender diversity programs or start afresh, Stephanie advises seeking buy-in from your CEO or your executive team and defining your core values. “What kind of company do we want to be? What will we be proud of?” From there, your organization can continue to thrive on the same core values you initially outlined.
How to build a personal brand
How do you go about growing your brand?
“A brand doesn’t build itself,” Sarah says. “It takes intention, dedicated time, and strategy. She breaks it down into two simple steps.
Figure out what it is that you most want to be known for.
For Sarah, it comes down to four things:
- Being the go-to person for all things print
- Being an advocate for women in procurement
- Being a connector of people
- And (here’s the fun part) being president of the Bradley Cooper fan club.\
Develop your personal marketing plan to get your brand out into the world.
Your plan should include things like:
- Using Linkedin every day – spend time liking, reacting, engaging, and posting.
- Speak at events – Speaking publicly can be overwhelming at first but you can start small by speaking on a panel or at a virtual event.
- Write every week – It’s so important to note down your thoughts, experiences, and challenges, which you can refer back to in the future.
- Reach out to five new people every single day – You can do this via online communities, virtual events, and happy hours.
- Stay in touch – Once you’ve made new connections it’s important to build and maintain those relationships.
- Wear something that stands out – Find something to wear that represents you and makes you stand out. Don’t underestimate fashion: it can be a powerful medium to use as part of your brand-building strategy.
Remember, your personal brand is fluid and will likely evolve over the years as you advance in your career.
How to be an ally in the workplace
Being an ally is hard work. As Madison points out, you don’t simply get up in the morning, make yourself a coffee, and pull out your ally book from the bookshelf.
On your journey to being a good ally, you’ll first need to identify where you are on the allyship continuum:
- Apathetic – You have little to no clue what’s going on in the world whether it’s the fight for racial or gender equality. You live your life in blissful ignorance.
- Aware – You are somewhat knowledgeable about the issues at play, but you’re not necessarily acting on this information.
- Active – You’re well informed and actively work to share your perspectives as well as seeking out diverse spaces. However, you often wait to be invited into the conversation.
- Advocate – You put yourself out there to be on the front lines of change. You wield the posters and signs, and you’re proactive in how you champion inclusion.
In the workplace specifically, professionals need to step back and acknowledge the corporate infrastructures that systematically disadvantage certain groups of people. “We need to take a critical look at how we hire, how we write job descriptions, the questions we ask in interviews, and how we onboard colleagues,” Madison explains.
It’s also important for organizations to accept that bias exists everywhere. Rather than trying to eradicate workplace biases, Madison believes it’s important to get better at quickly finding where the biases lie in our systems and putting measures in place that proactively counter those biases.
Want more insight from these amazing leaders in procurement? The full recap of Women Shaping Procurement Panel 2 is available now!