Introducing...Women in Global Sourcing
I have a passion for style and design. I like handbags, stilettos and lipstick so much that before I stumbled on sourcing during my senior year of college I planned on a career in fashion. I had recently finished my Alpha Gamma Delta sorority presidency and volunteered to coordinate Lip Jam, our largest fundraiser of the year benefiting diabetes. I hired a local print management company to source all the print, apparel and promotional items for the event. Out of nowhere, they offered me a job. I’m sure it was my charming personality and drop-dead good looks.
After graduation, I accepted the job and started my sourcing career in outsourced print management. I entered a man’s world. The print industry was (and still is) dominated by men. I got so used to working with men that, when another female attended a meeting I was surprised. At the first print-buying conference I attended in Reno, Nevada, there were over 150 attendees but only three, including myself, were female. There are more females in my immediate family (I have three sisters) than were in attendance at the conference.
Fortunately, I had a great first boss who taught me a lot about sourcing, technology, leadership and empathy. He also taught me an important lesson: judge someone by their effort, attitude and performance. While I don’t believe in judging someone on their race or gender, I do think it’s important to have a diverse work environment. I believe companies that are equally represented by men and women are more innovative and open minded.
UC Davis’s 2015-2016 study of California women business leaders researched the 400 largest public companies in California, with goal of driving “awareness among corporations, business leaders and policy makers to take meaningful action toward greater female representation.” The research found that companies with at least some female representation at the top performed better than those companies with mostly male executives and/or boards. The article concluded that much work is still to be done, with 70 percent of the companies reporting only one woman, or none, on their boards.
The numbers are even worse for women in sourcing. In 2014, only 7 percent of top sourcing leadership roles were held by women. Supply Chain Dive published a piece examining the reasons why there are so few women in sourcing, stating that lack of awareness was the greatest problem. Sourcing is not a well-known industry. There are very few college programs and it’s not a career that gets a lot of national visibility. Sourcing does not attract people who want the spotlight or have the marketing acumen to be successful. I think most people find sourcing employment by chance. That’s how I got into the business.
My mission is to get more women into sourcing. I’ve met incredible women and have established lifelong friendships with women who are doing fun, interesting and innovative things in supply chain. I want to highlight their accomplishments, thank them for their leadership and share their stories to attract more women to our industry. This series will do just that.
This is the official launch of Future of Sourcing’s Women in Global Sourcing series. Each month, Future of Sourcing will interview female game changers who are breaking down the boundaries and creating a new paradigm. Put on your favorite lounge outfit, grab some tea, make new friends and enjoy the interviews! I look forward to learning about these incredible women. I know you will, too.