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International Women's Day 2020: An Interview with Emily Cook

Posted on March 2020

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This year’s International Women's Day campaign is #EachforEqual. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. In 2020, we can choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Emily Cook, Head of Chemicals Procurement at DSJ Global, discusses the unique role that recruiters can play in promoting equality in supply chain.

The 2020 International Women’s Day theme is that an equal world is an enabled world. What does that mean to you in the industry?

For me, the International Women's Day theme of each for equal doesn't just mean equality for women but for all sexes, ages, ethnicities and races; all people. The idea of collective individualism means no one is better than another but also means the differences and individuality in people will bring about change and benefits for the collective growth.

We all know there have been many studies which prove more diverse teams perform better and have a positive influence on attracting and retaining talent. For the procurement function, having diverse teams to create innovation and implementing change to improve supply chains is essential.

Additionally, there are lots of conversations happening at the moment within procurement to not only concentrate on diversifying your own workforce but to also have diversity in the suppliers, I think for procurement professionals this is the next step for company growth.

Is gender equality a topic that often comes up in conversations with candidates and companies?

Most definitely! More and more companies are announcing their plans, their goals and their successes towards creating more gender diverse teams. The subject is less of a taboo and most of the clients I speak with are more open about discussing their hiring strategy when it comes to increasing diversity. I think it is fair to say everyone is on the same page when it comes to recognising the importance of having more diversity within all functions of a business.

Equally, when speaking with candidates they want to work in more diverse teams. The candidates usually enjoy working with different genders, different cultures and people from different backgrounds. Often the candidates see working with diverse teams and learning from others as their own personal and professional growth.

What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?

First of all, I think there is a real importance in the relationship you have with clients. A goal of mine is to be a business partner to the clients I work with, to understand their goals for their function and business but also to consult them as well as potentially challenge them when it comes to hiring strategies.

Once we have understood the clients diversity goals, as a recruiter we can use our time and resources to reach out to out to a wider market and variety of candidates and introduce people that may not be in the network of the hiring manager. This will help ensure both women and men are getting equal opportunities.

Some clients may not be as aware of the importance of gender equality, this is where the relationship between you and the client is important. Being able to have challenging conversations and explaining to the client the importance of diversity in teams is where you can add value - knowledge is power!

Whether the client is aware or not, as recruiters, we can always make sure we are sending a shortlist of equal amounts of men and women to ensure there is an equal amount of opportunity.

What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

Over this week, I have learnt some very useful ideas on how we can help companies create more diverse hiring strategies that I will start to implement myself moving forwards!

Firstly, I would use blind CVs. If the client wants the best talent, then providing a blind CV helps reduce any unconscious biases against the profilesso they can only consider an applicants qualifications, education, or career experience etc.

Another, which I think is very important is interview processes and "company culture". Culture is not tangible, which makes hard to judge if a candidate will fit or not. To avoid the confusion of someone "fitting in the company culture" and someone that just has the same likes and dislikes as the hiring manager, I will now always advise to diversify the interview process. Having a man and a woman on the interviewing panel will help diversify the candidates you are choosing and also help attract more diverse candidates to join your company.

Emily Cook joined DSJ Global two years ago and now heads up the Chemicals Procurement team. Get in touch with Emily to discuss how you can build a diverse hiring strategy.

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