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About This Episode
No matter who you are, it’s painfully obvious that the lack of women in the world of sales leadership is a problem.
There are women in the roles, to be sure. But the overwhelming majority of those in positions of sales leadership are men.
It’s a problem, but it’s not an unsolvable problem.
That’s where Margaret Weniger, Executive Director at Girl’s Club comes in. Margaret was kind enough to be a guest on the Sales Engagement podcast recently and shared with us some of the shocking findings of a study her organization just completed, where the fault lies, what women can do about it, and more.
Girl’s Club is a 9-month intensive program for women in sales. The participants undergo skills training, 1 on 1 mentorship, and more, so that they can step into the spotlight to get some help with confidence and earning promotions.
Margaret and her team at Girl’s Club had some questions and put together a survey to get more in-depth analysis around women in leadership.
They wanted to know who their audience was, and why they weren’t going for promotions. Why weren’t they putting themselves forward for opportunities that came up in their organizations? What was the problem?
The survey was somewhat of a State of the Union of women in sales.
So what did they find?
Numbers Don’t Lie
The participants in this survey were high performing women. 81% of the women surveyed were putting at least an hour per month into professional development for themselves, and of those, 57% were putting in more than an hour per week.
Clearly, these were very motivated women intent on growing their careers.
But when Girls Club asked the participants how many of them had applied for promotions within the last two years, forty percent of them said they hadn’t even applied. Not once.
You’d think that these women would be pushing boundaries, given that they were some of the most driven people out there. But nearly half of them weren’t even trying.
So What’s the Problem?
The study found that a good portion of the women in the study felt that because they hadn’t completely mastered their current role, that they couldn’t or shouldn’t apply for a promotion. That they didn’t have the skill sets for the next role.
It was the common belief that if they couldn’t meet all of the criteria for a role and couldn’t perform the role flawlessly, then they shouldn’t even try.
Sadly this is still true today even of the women who are the ultimate go-getters.
Others cited a lack of opportunities in the company. Either there weren’t any positions available, or the positions weren’t being presented to them.
The main difference between men and women in the sales leadership role is simply resumes. As a general rule, if a man can check three out of ten boxes for a job, he will apply. If a woman can only check nine out of the ten boxes, they’re far less likely to apply.
These women are talking to their managers. 77% of the women in the study said that they’re actively talking with mangers, but there is a very clear breakdown happening in the middle layer between talking to their manager and actually applying for roles.
Who’s Fault is It Anyway?
So where does the fault lie?
According to Margaret, the culprit is two-sided. There are things that companies can be doing better for women in their organizations.
Knowing that women are more inclined to want to check every single box before applying for a promotion, and that they’re less inclined to raise their hands not having mastered a topic, companies can be pushing women forward and getting behind them and truly supporting them.
And there are things that women can be doing better to furthering their own development.
Women need to take risks, knowing that it won’t have a negative impact on their career. A lot of the women in the program have talked about “impact to career” being a huge hindrance to applying for a promotion.
What Can They Do to Feel More Confident?
So what can women do to feel more confident? What steps can women take to help put themselves in a position to advance?
Get a mentor.
Get a mentor that is an outside resource. A person with no agenda and with no skin in the game. Someone who can be 100% honest with you and 100% focused on your success.
What Can Your Company Do?
Any company can do this. But how? How can you attract and retain more women at your organization?
Margaret says that one of the things they do is simply ask women, “What are you looking for? How do you assess a company?”
The answers are varied.
They look for women in leadership. Not the token female, but women in leadership spread across the entire organization.
They look to LinkedIn to see if women are recognized by the company and if women are talking positively about their companies.
They’re looking to companies to see if they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Are they putting resources behind training and advancing women? Or is it just a talking point?
Nobody expects a company to turn the ship overnight.
But it is doable. Start by getting a focus group together and start getting your answers.
Go get a group of women together and ask them, “What would be helpful? What do you need? What is important to you when it comes to career development and advancement?”
When you take away the fear and anxiety around someone’s job, you allow your sales professionals to create a far better experience for your customers.
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