December 7th was our biggest webinar event ever in #GirlsClub during which we welcomed some of the industry’s top experts to speak about sales’ biggest issue: why more women aren’t in sales leadership.
I was joined by these powerhouses and the conversation was just as amazing as you’d imagine.
- Lori Richardson, Founder, Women Sales Pros
- Rebekah Brewer, Founder and Chairwoman, Utah Women in Sales
- Margaret Weniger, Executive Director, #GirlsClub
- Amyra Rand, VP of Sales & Strategic Partnerships, Criteria Corp
- Cynthia Barnes, CEO, National Association of Women Sales Professionals
- Max Altschuler, VP of Marketing, Outreach
- Udi Ledergor, VP of Marketing, Gong.io
Here are the key takeaways from our discussion as well as the replay at the bottom of this post.
What is “Bro Culture” and What Are Its Effects?
Too often, women leave their positions because they feel unwelcome or unsupported. “Bro culture” is the alienation of women through:
- Lack of role models.
But most of the time, this is entirely unintentional.
Male sales leaders don’t decide to shut out their female counterparts. It’s just the way sales has always been for them (generating an innate industry bias), and women aren’t confident enough to stand up and take action. Instead, they vote with their presence and leave.
The good news is it’s getting better every year, according to Lori Richardson. However, this isn’t just a woman’s problem. It’s a business problem.
Companies are losing out of revenue because they lack women in leadership. In fact Harvard Business Review found that companies with at least a 30% female share in leadership experience 15% more profitability. Plus, studies also show that women make 11% more closes than men. That’s a lot of money slipping through the cracks.
How to Attract Women to Your Organization (And Not Repel Them)
It all starts with your image.
Udi Ledergor highlights how important it is to visually show diversity from the first moment a female candidate research your organization. Ensure it isn’t just white men appearing in your:
- Hero images
- Banner ads
- Stock photos
- Brochure illustrations
- Employee bios
The same principle applies to your job postings, too. Companies should take care to:
- trim down their less necessary job requirements
- tone down the “in your face” language like “quota crusher”, “expert”, “hunter”, “hungry”, “competitive”, and more.
Although some women may not mind these identifiers, most will shy away. The reason, according to Lori Richardson and Rebekah Brewer, is societal. Women are often taught to refrain from coming off too strongly out of fear of looking mean or aggressive.
During the hiring process, you can present a more diverse appearance by including women on a hiring panel or allowing female members of your team to grab coffee with the candidate. Be upfront about your diversity efforts (or lack thereof) with your candidates, and if you don’t have any, it might be time to build some. According to Cynthia Barnes, 63% of organizations intentionally partner with diversity organizations (like #GirlsClub!) to tap into their pool of potential talent.
How to Retain Women in Your Organization
If your female employees aren’t feeling supported or included in your company, they WILL leave, and oftentimes they leave for your competitors.
Start by laying out a development plan for all your employees with their career goals in mind, followed by publicizing any opportunities you hear about. Knowing their manager or leader is on their team helps women immensely in feeling like they don’t have to go it alone against the tide of “bro culture”.
When opportunities for speaking, leading, interviewing or any extra leadership activity come up, make the team aware of your selection criteria and open it for volunteers. You’ll receive more engagement and less demoralization from women if you make your process known.Of course, we’d all be remiss if we didn’t highlight one of the most important elements of retaining your female employees: benefits. Build a more flexible working schedule so busy moms and dads can juggle their lives and expand your family leave to include more bonuses like paid temporary childcare for leaders or longer leave altogether, say Rebekah and Amyra.
How Women Can Help
We’ve uncovered a lot of hidden gems during this first year of #GirlsClub, not least of which is that women supporting other women is one of the best ways to encourage career growth. Rebekah even mentioned the importance of having others you can lean on when starting out. Women can:
- Seek out a male or female mentor at networking events you can learn from, first and foremost!
- Stop hazing other women by making their lives difficult just because you had it rough.
- Encourage each other with recognition of each other’s successes.
Managers and leaders, your job is to define those promotion paths clearly and allow women to seek opportunities for new development and responsibilities.
Bonus Tips for Managers and Leaders
- Don’t punish work-life balance. Just because someone leaves on time, doesn’t mean they’re less deserving than the person who stays late everyday.
- Hire the right person, not just a token woman.
- Ask about career goals. Keep the conversation going throughout 1:1s.
- Create community. Welcome new women into the fold with team-building activities and invite them to join employee groups.
- Stop gimmicks. Trust me, women can sniff out the BS from a mile away.
- Share both success and failures. This is especially important if you’re a female manager or leader. Be a great role model for your team!
If you didn’t make it to the webinar, you can listen to our whole discussion in our replay below!