Why is it that in every movie about sales, the lead is always a guy?
It’s not the 1950s anymore.
Sales is a gender-neutral job — and we could all benefit from more women on our sales teams.
Stereotypes and unconscious biases
When you think of any sales movie, images of aggressive, somewhat slimy, and slightly disheveled dudes in ties bro-ing out over enough coffee to wake up a coma patient are invariably conjured.
Whether it’s Glengarry Glen Ross or Boiler Room, Hollywood churns out these stereotypes every time sales finds its way into a script.
Though sales may have once been seen as a career for men back when you could still smoke on airplanes, that’s no longer the case.
And now, these movies are perpetuating the stereotypes fueling the unconscious biases that keep us from having more women on our sales teams.
You may be thinking that no one thinks they’re living in some Mad Men-style bro culture anymore — most people want more women on their sales teams, right?
Well, in Patricia’s experience, yes, most men do want to create an environment that fosters more women in sales and tech.
The problem is not their overt conscious behavior.
It’s what’s going on behind the scenes.
“If anybody tells you they’re not a victim or the culprit of unconscious biases, they’re lying.” — Patricia DuChene
The stereotypes of Hollywood are just one of many cultural components that feed into a host of unconscious biases, which often makes the workplace harder for women.
When a woman’s idea is rejected only to have it praised when rephrased in a man’s voice, a woman is just expected to be the note-taker in a meeting, or a woman is passed up for a promotion in favor of a male with the same or lesser qualifications, that might be unconscious biases rearing their ugly head.
These biases are something women are forced to struggle to overcome in their careers.
And if you want to hire more women, you need to get rid of any taboo around the topic and make unconscious bias an ongoing topic of conversation in your organization.
There are other ways you can empower more women in your sales team.
And one of the most important is to take a look at your hiring process and make sure it isn’t keeping more women from being there in the first place.
Your hiring team
One of the worst signals you can send out to potential female candidates is not having any women on your hiring team.
“If you’re a female interviewing and you only speak to five men, it doesn’t really put a great taste in your mouth.” — Patricia DuChene
If your hiring team is entirely male, that’s an obvious red flag.
You are demonstrating to any potential candidate that you are not a company that cares about getting a female perspective in important decisions like your hiring process.
But even worse than that is the fact that you are weakening your company by not capitalizing on diverse perspectives in hiring decisions.
Adding more women to your hiring team allows you to draw upon a more diverse range of experiences to better inform your decision making.
Ultimately, that translates to hiring better candidates.
Commitment to diversity
Ideally, your organization should make a conscious effort to hire more qualified female candidates.
But in reality — especially for smaller companies — that is not always feasible.
Taking more time to make sure you are hiring 50/50 splits of women and men may lead many smaller companies to suffer while that position goes unfilled.
If this applies to your company, Patricia has some great advice.
If you can’t commit to ensuring you hire equal numbers of women to men, then you should at least commit to always narrowing down your final two candidates to one male and one female.
That way, the likelihood of balancing the ratio of men and women in your organization goes up without you losing valuable time.
Strengthening your team
Ultimately, we want to hire more women because it’s the right thing to do.
But it’s also in our best interest.
Women make excellent additions to our sales teams, whether or not Hollywood has caught on to that fact.
So, in addition to Patricia’s excellent advice, we also need to make sure we are creating an environment that women want to work in.
We need to do everything in our power to defy the Hollywood stereotypes and create a welcoming environment.
“I think that women should be empowered to do whatever it is that brings them joy, even if they don’t see others doing it.” — Patricia DuChene
Because tech sales is a great career path — for men and women alike.
If you like problem-solving, building relationships, working with people and independence, tech sales is a fun and rewarding career.
And gender shouldn’t change that.