Natasha Leporis   |   05 Mar 2023   |   4 min read

IWD Women in Procurement Series: Jacinta Taliauli

Jacinta Taliauli

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #EmbraceEquity. With women still being at a clear disadvantage in the workplace, from the gender pay gap to underrepresentation, we wanted to take a moment to discuss how this applies to the procurement profession and explore ways we might be able to Embrace Equity and instigate change.

According to a recent study by Jigsaw Talent Management, despite comprising nearly half the workforce in this area, only 21% of procurement industry leadership roles are currently occupied by women, and on average, women are paid 5% less than men at each leadership level.

VendorPanel’s own Head of Marketing, Natasha Leporis, recently sat down for a conversation with Jacinta Taliauli, Procurement Manager at the New Zealand Ministry for Pacific Peoples, to get some insight into her unique experiences as a young woman in the world of procurement in New Zealand.

How did you get into the procurement profession?

I studied supply chain in university and then completed a procurement internship. I had no idea what procurement was at the time, but I ended up enjoying that internship a lot.

I learned so much! I got to work with suppliers, and consider ethical and sustainability practices when I was sourcing, so I really enjoyed it.

After that, I applied for a procurement graduate program at Air New Zealand and had the opportunity to work within the New Zealand public sector where I got a lot of different procurement experience. It’s been great because I've been able to procure a whole range of different goods and services like IT, construction services and social services.

I think that procurement is a fantastic profession where you have the opportunity to work with suppliers to understand what their needs and challenges are. Another great thing is that you're also able to influence change from a system level.

What are some of the biggest challenges women face in procurement in New Zealand?

There are definitely some challenges that we're facing. Gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping still exists for women. For women in procurement, it might impact career advancement goals and opportunities to move into leadership roles, as well as pay disparities.

One of the challenges that I've experienced as a young female professional is that my suggestions and contributions can sometimes be undermined. I definitely think that there's still a lot of work that we need to do to address these challenges.

I think it's important that we keep working on proactively building a pipeline of our future female procurement leaders and supporting them, their development, and their leadership aspirations.

What are some of the things you would like to see change in the industry, particularly for Pacific and Indigenous people?

I would like to see more Pacific and Indigenous businesses applying for and being awarded high-value contracts. When Pacific and Indigenous businesses succeed, it stimulates economic growth and development for communities, which leads to new jobs, increased income for businesses and individuals and overall prosperity for the community.

Procurement provides a great opportunity for organisations to support that change and get on board. They can review their processes and ensure that they remove any barriers for Pacific and Indigenous businesses to apply for tenders and work with these organisations as well.

What strategies is your organisation currently implementing to create change and equity for everyone?

I think there's still a lot of work that all organisations need to do in order to support change in the procurement industry to support Pacific and Indigenous businesses.

Procurement professionals are in a good position to influence systemic and organisational change. We can do that by streamlining and rethinking regulation to make it easier for Pacific and Indigenous businesses to navigate the local and national business landscape. We can set diversity targets based on the number of contracts or contract value.

We can provide further funding to support suppliers in growing and developing their capability. If they have limited access to a particular market we need to help remove those barriers as well.

What's the most important risk you've taken in your career to date?

I think the most important risk I've taken in my career is putting myself forward for positions even when I wasn't 100% confident, whether I was ready or not to take on the position.

However, I know I'm passionate about procurement and I'm passionate about supporting communities, so I think by putting myself forward, I was willing to try something new. You’ve just got to make sure that you back yourself.

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