Diversity and Inclusion is the HOT topic in tech right now. It’s no secret, tech is too white and too male. I believe the uncomfortable conversation will have to continue to come from women, minorities, and anyone who doesn’t currently have a seat at the table, just like the #metoo movement.
Here’s the cause I’m going to take up. #Womenwhosell. There are just not enough women selling or holding sales leadership positions in tech. According to a recent LI survey , only 31% of technology sales jobs are held by women with only 18% of technology sales leadership positions being held by women. Gartner’s numbers aren’t much better. They report that only 1 in 5 sales leadership positions are held by women and that number has remained flat for the past 10 years. The data doesn’t lie. Women aren’t equally represented in tech.
Here’s why it’s important that we have more gender diversity in tech:
In a survey published in a Peterson Institute for International Economics working paper of 22,000 firms globally, researchers found that gender diversity is indeed profitable for companies. The survey shows that firms that went from no female corporate leadership to a 30 percent female share were associated with a one percent increase in net margin, which translated to a 15 percent increase in profitability for a typical firm.
Here’s the good news. The Founders Club reports that “U.S. technology startups with at least one female founder report employee teams that are on average 48% women.” So, the answer seems clear. More women in leadership positions will increase the number of women in tech overall. So how can we help to make that a reality?
Here are some thoughts on how to add more #womenwhosell and #womenwholead:
- Saleswomen start at home. I was fortunate to grow up in a “Sales” house. My parents owned a Real Estate company. My dad was President/Owner-Broker and my mother was a successful real estate agent. There was a lot of sales talk around the dinner table. As a result, it’s no surprise that my brother and I are both in sales today. I know, as parents, we have a tendency to turn off the work talk when we walk through the door at night. I think that’s a mistake. Kids are listening and learning all the time. Talk to them about the hard business decision you had to make today or the big deal that you closed. Very few universities offer a Sales degree. Education will need to happen at home.
- Volunteer to work with students. I’m a Junior Achievement instructor. I go into schools and teach kids of all ages about business, their community, finance, and much more. Each JA lesson has a financial component. From international trade agreements to shopping local. I make sure to also discuss with the students what I do, how my career has progressed, and why I love my job. I want a 3rd-grade girl to be exposed to successful and confident saleswomen.
- Be on the lookout. Female sales candidates are everywhere. Everyone is in sales, but not everyone is earning commission! We will need to be looking in other industries for successful women and enticing them to make the jump to selling tech. Get involved in female networking groups, offer to speak on the topic of women in sales at company lunch-n-learns, write a blog post about the need for #girlswhosell. We need to be discussing this topic openly.
- Pay it Forward. We need more female and male mentors working to help women get ahead. Not just in tech sales, but in life. I have a personal motto, “I have 30 minutes for everyone.” Don’t wait for a woman to approach you to ask for help. Let her know you’re just a phone call or email away if she needs advice or a networking introduction.
We can’t just sit back and hope that more women will magically choose sales careers in technology. We need to be proactively looking for ways we can entice more women to make the jump to tech. I’ve made a conscious decision the past few years to get more involved with the “women’s tech movement.” I mentored for Prosper for Women, I joined Rise Collaborative, I signed up for the Women in Tech meetup, and I attended the #LadyLofters breakfast at the RainMaker conference again this year. If you’re paying attention there are plenty of opportunities to network with successful saleswomen.
Here’s my Call to Action - Take a proactive step this week to connect with a woman you think could use a mentor and help her get to the next level!