Every year, when the recruitment campaign starts for the Executive Masters in “Commercial Management and Business Development” that I lead at Iéseg Executive Education, I ask myself: how many women? does the following cohort count?
Where are the women?
Our program welcomes on average 33% women. A recent Gartner study (1) indicates that while women represent 50% of the entry-level sales force, only 30% in sales leadership positions.
We are thus close to our “score”, with the participants in our program aiming for positions of commercial responsibility after 10 to 15 years of professional experience.
The selection factors are linked to the candidate’s profile, the suitability of his potential and his professional project with the programme, gender does not constitute a discriminatory element in any way, either in one direction or the other.
How to attract more talented women to sales departments?
There’s still some work to be done on the business side: while 86% of male leaders believe women have the same opportunities as men in sales positions, only 61% think so. (1). So there is a significant perception bias to be corrected.
Gartner also points out that the three main obstacles to the advancement of women in commercial careers are: the requirements of “lifestyle” (travel and schedules), the reputation of companies in terms of organizational culture and the lack of female role models among business leaders. All three have to do with questions about the representation of the profession and commercial culture, but perhaps also with the perception of women.
The commercial woman an employee like the others?
It is interesting to note that of these three components, two relate to: employee experience. A current topic in this post-covid era: new expectations have arisen… and this regardless of the gender of the employee!
Changing management practices in commercial organizations, to improve the employee experience, should help recruiting in a profession under pressure in general and in particular in sales. In particular, it concerns a benevolent managementtaking into account the search for a balance between professional and private life, which should also be possible for these professions.
How do you dissolve self-limiting beliefs?
These restrictive behaviors have their origin in particular in the internalization of the expectations of the environment (parents, educators, society) which can evoke a diffuse feeling of guilt and a attitude of refusal to career development perceived as negativea form of anticipatory censorship of women(2) .
How do you get out of these beliefs?
1/ Reassure yourself : Developing business skills means building a solid foundation to gain confidence: better customer knowledge, better negotiating ability, better financial control, better strategic ability. In short, take his side “1time of the class that doesn’t have a big head” that can help!
2/ Parallel development, working on self-knowledge, self-confidence, leadership. Getting out of your comfort zone is also important, but using force to get there can hurt a lot. By taking a demanding Executive-type training, you can challenge yourself strongly but in a benevolent setting.
3/ Get helpfor example by a coach, because 2 or 3 decades of limiting beliefs cannot be eliminated alone.
To know more
Pascale Pata-Dubouis is a senior professor of practice at Iéseg, where she teaches marketing and leads the “Executive Mastere Direction Commerciale et Business Development” program.
She has a passion for brands and their alliances as levers for value creation and is doing PhD research on Accidental Brand Alliances. She teaches marketing and sales strategy and their operational implementations.
(1) Gartner 2022 – Gender Diversity in Sales infographic – https://www.gartner.com/en/sales/trends/gender-diversity-in-sales
(2)Borel, P. & Soparnot, R. (2020). Through professional self-censorship or when women are supposedly responsible for the inequalities they suffer from. RIMHE: Interdisciplinary Journal of Management, People & Business40.9, 68-78.