Ever since I founded Proco Global in 2008, I’ve been a passionate believer in creating a culture of inclusion. I’ve often spoken about the difference it makes to our clients if they are genuinely tapping in to the very best of the huge variety of talent that is available to them, and I hope that we walk the walk at Proco too.

Proco Global is a recruitment firm with a difference, focused only on senior level recruitment, and solely within supply chains, covering procurement, supply chain, manufacturing, engineering and quality and operational excellence. In the last nine years, we have grown from a single office in Brighton with just a handful of staff, into a 150-strong worldwide team of experts, spread across ten cities across the globe.

We frequently talk to our clients about the need for more diverse role models at the top of their organisations, and we appreciate that in different markets there are both cultural challenges and skills gaps to overcome in order to achieve that. We work every day with businesses that operate across the supply chain and tell us that it is not a path women commonly take, for example. We know that these firms want to address their shortage of female leaders, but struggle to find the candidates necessary to do so.

We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we can help start the conversation, and our clients will take us more seriously if we are putting what we say into practice. Since 2008, we have worked hard to recruit a balanced workforce, irrespective of gender, race or sexuality. As a result, we have a strong balance of male and female employees (57% are female), and 39% of people working at manager level or above are women. Our operational board already has 80% female representation along with 50% of our regional heads who sit on our executive board, but we know we can’t rest on our laurels.

I would not presume to suggest that we have done everything right, as we have made plenty of mistakes along the way, and we still have much to learn. But we strive to reinforce the message of inclusion internally and we take our commitment to it seriously: we believe in agile working and flexibility because we all have lives outside of work; and as a leadership team we work extremely hard to find the talent already working within our business, even if tomorrow’s leaders do not necessarily volunteer themselves as such.

I have just hired my first Head of People at Proco, with a task of identifying the talent we have, promoting from within, and making sure we continue to provide the right opportunities across our business for everyone, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

A recent McKinsey article pointed out the challenge of identifying the next generation of business leaders, and the need to be much more proactive in rooting out hidden talents who may have unconventional backgrounds, be reluctant to put themselves forward, or have fallen off (or steered clear of) the standard development path. It is such a wasted opportunity when rising stars within a business are overlooked, and a reason why we should all work hard to ensure everyone in our organisations is actively engaged and motivated, and that unconscious bias is banished.

No one ever claimed that recruitment was rocket science, but it’s not just about revenues and big-billers. We focus on promoting behaviours, values, global collaboration and teamwork.

That’s how we have managed to create a pretty inclusive and diverse workforce at Proco. We are always on the lookout for ways to help our clients do more of the same, and we love to hear what has worked elsewhere.

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