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What Women in Sales Need from Their Workplace

Medical sales continues to be a male-dominated industry. The bad news, there is still a gender pay gap. The better news, there has been some progress in reducing that gap for women in sales.

According to our 2021 Medical Sales Salary Report, the average income reported by women in sales grew by 14% since last year. We also found that there are more women in leadership positions within the industry than ever before! 

The progress is good but doesn’t change the history of gender inequality within the industry. And unless you clearly define what your company has in place to support women, candidates may be reluctant to apply or accept a job offer. 

To ensure that potential hires feel comfortable at your company, you must consider needs specific to women in sales. Keep these five factors in mind: 

Wage transparency

2019 research from SurveyMonkey showed that a mind-boggling 46% of men believe the gender pay gap is “made up to serve a political purpose” rather than a “legitimate issue.” And yet, in a global survey of more than 30,000 workers, ADP found that men who took on more responsibilities during the pandemic were more likely to get paid more than women completing the same task. 

To ensure women feel safe and respected in the medical sales team, you must educate all reps about the reality of the gender pay gap. And don’t be afraid to encourage representatives to engage in conversations about earnings. The more open the culture is on this topic, the more progress can be made. 

Furthermore, take the initiative and be honest about any pay gaps during the interview process. There, you can own up to it, explain the situation, and detail the plans in place to fix it. Prospective women in sales will appreciate the transparency and action-oriented approach to the issue. 

Mandatory breaks and vacation time

The experiences and reasons of burnout differ by race, but one central fact remains the same: work takes a toll on women’s mental health. According to a separate SurveyMonkey study from 2021, 53% of women say their jobs cause burnout all or some of the time.

Your sales reps need the opportunity to relax without feeling guilty for taking time away from work. Establish new routines to normalize taking intentional breaks throughout the day. And take some time looking over the team’s vacation requests. If they aren’t using their PTO effectively, it may be time to consider a new approach to encourage reps to take more time off.

Additionally, monitor the culture among the medical sales reps. It’s natural for there to be some healthy competition among members of the medical sales team. But keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t become toxic and lead reps to overwork themselves. 

Scheduling and location options

Remote work and flexible hours have a greater significance to the lives of women in sales than for men in the same occupation. A recent study from FlexJobs revealed that just 69% of men consider remote work options to be the most important factor when evaluating a new job. Comparatively, an overwhelming 80% of women said the same. 

Flexibility for scheduling and location is different in medical sales than in other positions. Even if you give the team options to work from home, they’ll still spend much of their time on the road to meet with clients. 

Taking the preferences and needs of clients into consideration, offer what flexibility you can. The reps have to bounce from place to place all week. So it can be a huge relief to provide them the autonomy to determine what works best for their work schedule and home life. 

Recommended reading: Here’s how to explain your hybrid work policies successfully

Evidence of opportunity for upward movement

The 2021 SurveyMonkey study also found that 39% of women in 2021 are concerned that flexibility will come at a professional cost. And that fear is highest among Black women and Latinas. Considering that less than one-third of survey respondents were “very satisfied” with the amount of career growth available at their current job, it’s a reasonable worry to have. 

To reduce this concern in your workplace, be mindful of the promotion process. Ensure that there are objective systems to give all qualified reps a fair shot at the advancement opportunity. 

Moreover, clearly communicate when those positions are available, what the qualifications are, and any way it may limit or benefit flexible work options. For example, establish that a management position may require the same days in the office each week. But, with less time on the road, the individual would get to work from home more often. Sharing these expectations from the get-go helps reps accustomed to hybrid schedules feel more comfortable applying for the position.

Enriching professional development

However, not everyone wants to get the promotion and be a leader or manager. Some may love working as a sales rep and want to stay in that position. Others may not yet qualify. But those team members still deserve an opportunity for career growth. 

Ample professional development opportunities assure women in sales and other reps that the company wants to invest in them. Moreover, a 2020 study from ResumeLab found that 54% of employees would leave a job without sufficient professional development opportunities. So it’s evident that this solution is a must. 

There are many options to pursue professional development. But you must be smart if you select group trainings as one of the components to it. Not all reps would benefit from the same lesson, and that division isn’t going to fall neatly along gender lines. For example, assess who needs practice in being diplomatic versus those who need guidance in giving more pushback based strictly on feedback and performance reviews.


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