The 2015 Next Level Purchasing Association Salary Report indicates that 81% of all procurement professionals outside of North America were men, who in turn made approximately 15.7% more money than their female counterparts.  In North America, the numbers indicated that the gender gap was much narrower at 53% men to 47% women in the field.  However, the salary gap indicated women made 77.6% of what their male counterparts were making.  This number is very much in line with the national average in the United States of women making 78% of the salary men make in the same positions.

Don’t miss updates on Procurement & Supply Chain, Subscribe here!

As with other professions, the pay gap between men and women needs to close.  Studies have shown that in some cases women are not as willing to negotiate as their male counterparts.

equal-pay-in-procurementCarnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock, who studies the gender gap in salaries, was recently interviewed by NPR on the subject and states from a 2003 study she conducted along with Sara Laschever, “men are four times more likely to negotiate their pay and that individuals who do not negotiate first salaries lose more than $500,000 by age 60. That keeps women at a disadvantage, though they’re not always aware of it.”

Babcock continues, “The standard now is that people don’t really know what each other earns, that some people negotiate and some people don’t, and so there’s tremendous inequities in salary.”

In the field of procurement, negotiation is a critical component of a professionals’ skill set.  For women to get ahead and achieve measurable goals for their employers, having the ability to negotiate confidently is essential.  While the negative connotations of women who do negotiate exist, a study conducted by Emily Amanatullah, an assistant professor of management at the University of Texas, shows that women are actually much better negotiators for others rather than themselves.

According to the study, Ms. Amanatullah found when the women negotiated on behalf of themselves, they asked for an average of $7,000 less than their male counterparts. But when the women negotiated on behalf of a friend, they asked for as much money as their male counterparts.

Amanatullah says, “when women advocate for themselves, they have to navigate more than a higher salary: They’re managing their reputation, too. Women worry that pushing for more money will damage their image.”

In addition, the most eye-opening quote for me came from Ms. Babcock; “When women do negotiate, people often have a negative reaction to them.”

It is shameful to think that women negotiating a better compensation package for themselves are looked down upon by men and especially other women!  Bringing aboard the best candidate regardless of sex, age or race is just plain smart business.  If the woman is perceived as an aggressive negotiator when negotiating her own compensation, why in the world would you not want her on your team? Providing she has the education, savvy and proper experience like anyone else.

In further research by Ms. Babcock and Ms. Laschever, women appear to have better collaborative skills to negotiate win-win outcomes that are key to long-term business relationships.  According to Ms. Babcock and Ms. Laschever, “Men are not better negotiators than women. Women more often than men take a “collaborative” or cooperative approach to negotiation that has been shown to produce agreements that are better for both sides. Women are more likely than men to listen to the needs and concerns of the other side, communicate their own priorities and pressures, and try to find solutions that benefit all parties—to find the win/win solutions. This approach not only leads to better outcomes for everyone, it often produces creative solutions to problems that might have been overlooked by men taking a more competitive or adversarial approach. Also, by looking for those win/win solutions, women tend to preserve and enhance long-term business relationships—they don’t burn as many bridges as men who focus on short-term gains.”

As a father of two young daughters, I stress as often as possible in their different activities and pursuits to never take a backseat to anybody.  While I am often looked at wide-eyed or ignored, my goal is to have these words make an impression on my daughters to speak up and do what is best for themselves.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

More Posts