There has been a seeming unprecedented number of news stories in the past month dealing with sexual harassment, misconduct and/or assault. It’s quite disturbing.
The accused represent a wide swath of society:
- Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein
- Immensely successful comedian, Louis C.K.
- Small town fire chief, Aaron Powell
- Former U.S. president, George H.W. Bush
- Countless others of virtually every stripe
Though their professions are varied, there is one thing the accused have in common: They are men in a position of power over their accusers.
In procurement negotiation discussions, the idea of “leveraging your power” comes up often. And that is not a bad thing. But abusing your power is a bad thing. And abusing your power with sexual implications has no place anywhere, much less in a discipline trying to elevate its professionalism.
Frankly, in my two decades in procurement, I’ve never witnessed or even heard of a procurement practitioner abusing his or her power in a sexual way. But, when you see all of the sexual harassment stories in the news and the previously perceived professionalism of some of the accused, it is not difficult to imagine that it has happened.
Let me be clear: nothing sexual should ever be stated or implied in a procurement professional’s communications. Ever.
No inappropriate touching should ever occur in a procurement professional’s interactions. Ever.
If the headlines are any indication, offenses can and will be brought out into the open. Some of us may have a sexual sense of humor or flirty personality in our personal lives. But it is important to never allow that off-the-clock persona appear in the context of your procurement work.
Be careful. Abuse of power is not tolerated in today’s society. And it shouldn’t be.