Let’s start with some stats:
Linkedin found that only 21% of VP’s in sales are women, while 49% of sales teams are female. Harvard Business Review research found that according to their peers, direct reports and managers, women are viewed as more effective leaders than their male counterparts. At the executive level, 67.7% of female leaders are considered to be effective leaders compared to 57.7% of male leaders.
And yet here we are.
And apparently it’s getting worse, especially in tech companies and startups, accordingly to Emily Chang in her book “Brotopia.”
There is still very much a bro-club out there in sales and my sisters in sales are battling it everyday. Silently and usually by themselves.
Maybe it’s because sales traits have historically been considered male traits? Maybe it’s because it’s one “bro club” that never got broken up because “revenue hides all sins.” At this point I don’t care why.
What I do care about is all the amazing female sales leaders I know and the bullshit they face everyday and making sure that we speak up, support each other and create a better world for the young women that come after us.
First, we have to just acknowledge that it exists. It’s crazy how real it is, we face it everyday and yet we can’t talk about its existence.
I have a friend who built a sales team from the ground up, has been consistently hitting goal, has incredible retention and a perfect track record. Yet, her job was literally handed to a guy with an attitude problem who had zero experience in that department. Her male boss simply gave it to him, then told her after the fact “Hey we decided to give your job to XX” She had been the only female sales leader on that side, now it is all male. She spoke up and the only effect it had was her getting the cold shoulder from her males peers and she was still demoted.
This isn’t a new story. I hear it all the time. All. The. Time. I spend my time mentoring, helping and listening to women across the country who are dealing with the exact same challenges.
So what do we do?
First, we have to keep being amazing. We have to keep learning and keep crushing our sales goals. We have to be the best in order to have a fighting chance. Be better than anyone around you, work harder and be invaluable. (It can’t promise it will change much but if you aren’t the best, you don’t stand a chance)
Then, start mentoring other women. There are unspoken boys clubs where they play golf, basketball, have drinks...But they are also coaching, mentoring and supporting each other. We have to do the same. Surround yourself with strong, badass sales women and coach and mentor young female leaders to help them be their best. Call out your female counterparts ideas, publicly recognize strong female performers. Protect your colleagues by giving credit, recommending them etc..
Find male colleagues who are advocates, and if you work for male CRO’s or CEO’s make sure they are advocates before you accept a role. I chose my newest role because the CEO treated me like a human in the interview, asked for my ideas and listens when I speak. A friend of mine found a killer opportunity to work for a female CEO, lucky her. The options may be limited but they are out there! Do your research!
In the meantime, raise each other up, be better than anyone around you and stand strong. It won’t be easy but as we plow this road, it will be easier for all the amazing young women who will walk it in the future. Everything I do is for my family, my daughters will face these same challenges but maybe, thanks to women like me, they will have it just a little easier!
Send this post to anyone who you think needs it and start your woman's club!
** I am open to mentor/chat with anyone who wants to
** Men if you are going to comment with something negative - I give zero F** what you think and I will smile as I delete ;)