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Women in Procurement Wednesday: Greta Matos on how women can enhance the social impact goals of supply chains

08/11/2021 By

When Greta Matos graduated college with a joint corporate communications and international relations degree, she wanted to gain experience in the business field. She was open to any kind of role but stumbled upon an opportunity to manage a company’s budding sourcing needs.

Her role quickly ramped up — she built the sourcing division from the ground up. She met with suppliers in China to set up contracts and source different products and services.

Matos enjoyed this work for several years but felt like something was missing.

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“As I gained more experience in the space in sourcing and working with suppliers at the ground level, all I could see everywhere were these huge opportunities for us to have a reduced environmental impact by making clear sourcing decisions, as well as much more positive social impact by engaging suppliers in a meaningful way building relationships,” Matos said. “And so that was essentially why I ultimately left that position. … For me, it was very clear that if I was going to work in this space, [impact] was the way in which I wanted to contribute.”

Matos saw procurement as a key to truly changing the world. She saw the opportunities to fight back against climate change or forced labor. It was the ticket to creating a better, more sustainable business world. And she fell in love with striving toward making an impact in procurement and thus the world.

Her next role focused entirely on social compliance. She dove into the world of social auditing, tracking the ground level as well as brands and retailers. She monitored their programs, their intentions for the supply chain and helped companies build relationships with their suppliers that were transparent and meaningful.

Now, Matos continues to work on creating a more sustainable supply chain in her work as a consultant for Quila Quina Consulting. She helps companies create strategic plans for building transparent supply chains.

That’s not all that keeps Matos busy these days, though. She is the co-Founder and Director of CuraKuda, an equine-guided experiential leadership development program. The focus of the program is on the intersection of the human and environmental experience to promote resilience in business.

She also works with &Wider, a technology solution that assesses working conditions for supply chain companies throughout the world. Essentially, workers report through a cellphone questionnaire the conditions of their environments. This gives suppliers and companies insight into things that are going well, or things that can be improved upon.

“We understand when you open up these channels for listening, it tends to be a very vulnerable space,” Matos said. “The suppliers very often are resistant because they don’t know what the workers are going to say. … The way in which we engage the conversation is to prepare yourself for surprises. That’s OK.

“That’s the whole point of listening, is that we might hear things that you weren’t aware of and that this is an opportunity to then look at what systems you have. So, what management systems do you have in place? For example, if workers are all saying that they don’t have access to water throughout the day, now let’s take a look at what management systems you have in place to build that out.”

It’s all about creating a more resilient, sustainable supply chain.

As a woman in the industry for the last 15 years, Matos has seen it become more focused on building a sustainable future through the hiring of more women in different roles. She said procurement has traditionally been a male-dominated field, but with the growing importance of sustainability, it has also become a more even workplace for women.

Matos said the industry is changing in certain ways — for the better. There is more impetus on creating sustainable, strong and resilient supply chains that not only impact a company’s bottom line but a company’s social impact.

Matos said women can often be a catalyst for this kind of strategic change. She encourages women to enter the space, speak up and own the characteristics and traits that make them women.

Matos talks about an evolution in the industry. In the 15 or so years that she’s been involved in supply chain, companies have increasingly placed more emphasis on improving working rights.

The Covid pandemic helped accelerate this trend in some aspects. Matos said that unfortunately the pandemic forced some companies to shut down their efforts on sustainability, if only for cost issues.

But she said the companies that stuck with their sustainability efforts are a much stronger group now because of it. These companies are leading the change and continuing to meet the demands set by consumers and others looking for transparency in supply chain.

Matos’ goals for the industry are lofty, but not completely out of the norm. Matos sees procurement and supply chain as one of the best avenues to enact change in the world. She truly believes that the world will become a better place with more sustainability technology options, metrics and reporting.

Innovation is the key for Matos. It’s going to take some innovative thought to continue the course that has been set up the last few years. But that innovative mindset will only further drive change and more innovation in the future.

At the end of the day, Matos wants the industry to continue to foster new thinking in a way that will provide a better impact on the world around us.

“We could change our entire economy and the way in which it operates, and it would be done not because of regulation and not because of policing, but actually because of innovation,” Matos said. “I stay the course in the space because I just see it as actually one of our big key opportunities as a human race. If we actually want to change course as quickly as we need to when it comes to climate change but also social impact.”

Read about other professionals featured in our “Women in Procurement Wednesdays” series. Are you a woman in the procurement space who has a compelling story to tell? We’re all ears. Send us an email at: