Yesterday, Tim Cook officially shared what many in the Bay Area tech scene knew already – that he was gay. The announcement should be meaningless for the supply chain and procurement profession, but it is not.
Simply put, while throughout our careers we have seen passionate pleas beyond government mandates to drive supplier diversity programs as well as significant recruitment programs internally that emphasize racial inclusion and diversity, it is our view that the operational side of businesses – procurement, supply chain, accounts payable, etc. – generally remain far less accepting, at least publicly, of an openly gay and lesbian workforce in comparison to other areas of the business.
We stand behind Mr. Cook and his willingness to put himself “out” around this issue, although we should also acknowledge that he can afford to at this stage in his career. Many others cannot – or opt not to out of fear. It is our hope that his announcement helps break down preconceived notions within procurement and supply chain about openness because these areas of the business, unlike so many others on the c-level outside of it, have often felt less comfortable acknowledging this.
Of course this shouldn’t matter. But it does. And further, many CPOs we know and work with are completely aligned with the need for greater diversity and acceptance in both the supply base and the workforce. This makes sense strategically on so many levels, not the least of which is by inviting diversity of all types, we are able to tap the broadest and deepest talent and supplier pool and have these individuals not have to worry about how others might perceive them.
The argument that sexuality can be left at home in the workforce is one that breaks down under any interrogation. People spend time together after work; families spend time together on the weekends; social activities bring peers for team building activities. One of us has an openly gay sibling, and we know how challenging dealing with the perception of others can be, especially early in one’s career, in an environment where diversity is more a question of checking the box than anything else.
The more executives can do to welcome the gay and lesbian workforce, the better. The sad fact is procurement hasn’t exactly always had a reputation as a bastion of openness, inclusiveness and emotional intelligence like other areas of the business such as marketing and HR have. And as we all know, perception is reality.
Most important, this is another opportunity for procurement to lead – and many CPOs have indeed been leading regarding inclusiveness. They know, the more inclusive you are, the better for business. Let us hope Mr. Cook’s words inspire others to create a more welcoming culture within procurement and supply chain for all.
Any/all opinions within this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Spend Matters Network as a whole, or of other individuals within the company. Comments and ensuing discussion welcome!