It has been widely accepted that organisations stand to benefit from employing a diverse workforce, but is it critical for innovation?

As recruiters working across all functions of the supply chain, we often collaborate with organisations around the world who have a clear agenda for innovation and change. This is driven by the need to keep abreast of new technologies, to bring about efficiencies while maintaining a competitive advantage.

New research from Boston Consulting Group* suggests a positive relationship between management diversity and innovation, with companies with higher levels of diversity shown to be generating more revenue from new products and services.

We spoke to some of our senior supply chain contacts around the world, and asked them about the efforts they are making to foster innovation, to build diverse teams and to avoid the perils of groupthink. They have told us what has worked for them and where they still see challenges, all of which makes for some fascinating reading.

We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together in collaboration with our clients. I’d like to thank them all for their input, and I look forward to hearing what your thoughts.
  Richard Paisley
CEO – Proco Group

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Driving Innovation in the Supply Chain

Innovation can greatly impact supply chain performance, as manufacturers strive to design products that are easier to produce, require fewer components and can be more efficiently assembled and repaired.

"Our consumers have new and changing expectations about where and how they buy products and how quickly products get delivered, so we need to be proactive to not only keep up, but also to stay ahead of what consumers are going to expect in future. We cannot be competitive if we continue with the same old supply chain – we have to look at the internal and external boundaries and barriers, and continuously strive to reduce the overall time to market."
Meredith Brooks, Senior Director, Strategic Sourcing - Hasbro

Redefining Diversity

Diversity of thought is important in growing companies, because it helps guard against groupthink – which is the tendency towards homogenous viewpoints – and frequently helps generate new ideas and insights. It also allows companies to more effectively identify the best people for any chosen task, based on many different variables, by recognising that no two individuals will approach something in the same way.

"Diversity to me is about cultural diversity, but it is also about typology – bringing together people with different approaches to communication or leadership. The easiest way to go for more diversity is to track males and females, but that’s the basic of Diversity, the “1.0.” Of course, within males and females you have a broad diversity of personalities and preferences, and making those work well together can be really powerful."
Beatrix Praeceptor, Chief Procurement Officer - Mondi Group

Nurturing Diversity of Thought and Innovation

If diversity of thought can bring companies such benefits, in terms of better decision-making, innovation, and business performance, how does one achieve it? The answer comes down to three things – hiring, promoting and managing in a way that nurtures diversity.

"In order to address this opportunity, we recognized that in developing our human capital strategy, we needed to approach it no different than developing a strategy for one of our products. If we want to take a product from point ‘A to B’, the first step is to establish a baseline. What’s our starting point from where we want to improve? What’s the gap between where we are and where we need to get to? And finally, what’s the specific strategy that we can put into place to best address this gap and deliver our desired results?"
Clint Lewis, Executive Vice President and President of International Operations- Zoetis

Hiring a diverse workforce

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to building a diverse employee population is how to incorporate diversity into your hiring practices.

Well under half of the respondents to our survey worked in organisations that had in place official programmes to recruit a more diverse workforce, and yet there are steps that can be taken.

"One of the key things is to search for talent in different ways and from different channels, which means not always going to the same colleges and to your competitors for candidates. You might want to look to a different type of company, a different type of industry, to bring in that diversity of thought."
Meredith Brooks, Senior Director, Strategic Sourcing -Hasbro

10 Steps to Driving Diversity of Thought in your Business

1. Address unconscious bias
2. Insist on diverse shortlists
3. Drive out bias in initial selection
4. Consider diversity targets
5. Measure what you have
6. Build a culture of inclusion
7. Nurture diverse talent
8. Stretch the recruitment net farther and wider
9. Lead from the top
10. Put diversity and inclusion at the heart of your brand

Have you asked yourself... the CEO checklist

  • How diverse is your business today?
    Do your management teams look like your customer base, and what image are you presenting to the outside world?
  • Are you listening to diverse voices?
    Where do you get your ideas from? Who are the people that influence you most in your work and more generally? Do those people have the same backgrounds as you?
  • What are your own prejudices?
    We all have them, but have you challenged your unconscious bias, and made an effort to address it?
  • How can you drive innovation?
    Innovation comes from creativity and new ideas – do your teams really include people who think differently, and challenge the status quo?
  • Are you taking the lead?
    Do you have people on the board who are responsible for diversity and inclusion? Are you demonstrating to the business that this is important?


Will you #PressforProgress?

To celebrate International Women’s Day our consultants from our 12 global offices and show their commitment to helping accelerate gender parity and encourage others to progress too.


Will you join Proco Global, Proco Associates and Proco Commodities and take bold action?


Our Communities

Celebrating the Achievements of Women

Despite growing interest among femal students about working across the supply chain, studies show that surprisingly few women within the Fortune 500 have risen to the field’s executive or board-level positions. We talked to a number of inspiring women working across commodities and supply chain. Here’s what they had to say...


Join us on LinkedIn

As a business specialising in placing senior professionals we recognised that business leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about lack of presence of senior female professionals working across the supply chain (from sourcing commodities to packaging and delivering end products).

We have created a series of communities on LinkedIn because we want to provide a forum where the best and the brightest women working across the supply chain can benefit from connecting and exchanging ideas with other women from around the world.


Related Reading




Proco Group

Proco Group is the only recruitment group in the world dedicated to filling supply chain roles. After nearly a decade of steady and consistent growth, we now offer our services through three brands – Proco Associates, Proco Commodities and Proco Global.

We have 12 offices and more than 150 consultants, all specialists in chosen sectors and geographies.

Operating across the supply chain, we have access to an unrivalled global network of contacts – at every stage of their careers and across every part of the supply chain, from sourcing commodities to quality control through to delivery of end products.

We spend time getting to know people so that we can share valuable insights and match the right people to the right roles in the right companies.

We believe in rapid, high-quality solutions and long-term sustainable relationships.