You hope none of your sales reps believe there are gender barriers within your company’s walls. You push for leaders to improve policies to ensure equality. You listen when a concern is brought to your office. You don’t believe those concerns are the majority.
Gender inequality issues have been at the forefront of the corporate world for a few years now. As a leader, you likely know issues still stand but hope they’re not negatively impacting your sales team.
Unfortunately, the reality is that 65.2% of sales reps in our recent report, The State of the Sales Industry ‘Boys Club’ in 2019, believe there’s a ‘boys club’ mentality in the sales industry. Both male and female reps directly feel the impact of this — and other — gender barriers in the workplace.
It’s these issues of inequality that lead to negative work environments, poor collaboration, decreased satisfaction, and lowered productivity. While you, of course, understand the toxicity of inequality in the workplace, it’s impossible to fully protect your entire sales team from its reign.
Rather than safeguarding your medical sales employees, empower them and collaborate to overcome damaging gender barriers. Here’s how you can start:
Leverage and develop their natural skills
Every sales rep on your team has their own unique skills and personality. Female sales reps (50.7%) in our report, for example, said the level of respect received from clients is positively impacted by their gender.
Ask individual employees to list their unique skill sets and areas they’d like to improve. Hone in on those specific skills to help them develop further and excel in various areas of their careers. Use training, courses, and mentoring programs to ensure each rep is receiving fair opportunities for development.
As a result, you’ll instill new confidence in them and in you as their leader. Reps will see your initiative to help them develop as a sign that you believe in their potential to succeed.
Be a collaborative advocate
Many sales reps aren’t waiting around for gender barriers to fall — they’re breaking those walls down themselves. In fact, actively advocating for change within their company was the No. 1 way female respondents in our report stated they’d respond if the state of the boys club continued. Even more males (39.6 percent) say they’re prepared to actively advocate for change at their current company.
Whether you’ve been advocating on your own or haven’t yet taken a stand, it is the time to use your team’s momentum. Stand by your team’s side. Don’t take over as a leader or stand behind as a dormant support system.
Roll your sleeves up and ask questions regarding their experiences so you understand exactly where you’re needed. For example, ask questions such as:
- What gender inequality issues are holding sales reps back?
- What are their perceptions of gender barrier issues?
- What changes, if any, has leadership made that employees see as a positive?
- What changes, if any, has leadership made that employees see as a negative?
Discuss the elephant in the room — money
In medical sales, especially, money is a major source of concern when it comes to gender barriers. Unfortunately, negotiation isn’t natural — or viewed as fair — for many reps. Over 40% of female sales reps in our report say compensation negotiation is negatively impacted by their gender.
Sometimes it’s true — female employees aren’t paid as much as male peers. In other cases, there’s an issue of perceptions or misunderstandings due to a lack of specific details. No matter what your employees are dealing with, you can’t help them overcome the issue without an open discussion.
Sit down with sales reps of both genders to discuss pay. Explain why their pay structure is set up the way it is, how they can earn more via bonuses, raises, or more commission, and what their colleagues are doing to earn higher paychecks.