The State of Sales Survey: Let’s Strive for Diversity and Inclusivity

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The State of Sales Survey has provided us with some insightful information. The question is…what will we all do with it?

What does a career in sales mean to you?

When we think about sales, we think about people. We think about making connections and building lasting relationships. We think about a tight-knit community composed of passionate professionals from different backgrounds and places, ready to join forces. But unfortunately, this is not everyone’s reality. Some of us have it harder than others. And some of us have a valuable voice that is never heard.

The State of Sales Survey

As a proud member of the Sales community, we at VanillaSoft take this issue to heart. And today, we are pleased to share with you The State of Sales survey, a compelling project led by Ashleigh Early and Kasey Jones of The Other Side of Sales, and sponsored by us. This survey explores the problem of discrimination and harassment in sales workplaces by putting forward data collected from over 500 voluntary participants. The questionnaire was primarily promoted on social media platforms between February and July 2020. 

We believe that the first step to addressing a situation is realizing that it actually exists – not just elsewhere, but in our own environment as well. This may not be an easy read, but let’s go ahead and take the leap together.


Mark your calendar: November 19th – 1 PM EST – Join the authors of The State of Sales Survey and our own Sales Director Catherine Robles for a Fireside chat. We will be loud and open about the challenging topics that rarely get discussed in our sales community. Join us REGISTER HERE


Diversity

The lack of available data on ethnicity demographics in the sales industry is a prime example of the need to discuss the question of race. And we know, race is not an easy topic to dive into – but it is necessary. To help us out, Ashleigh and Kasey have taken it upon themselves to pinpoint important information regarding the ethnic background of modern-day sales professionals.

Out of the 505 respondents, the percentage of Caucasian sales professionals sits at a towering 69.1% – needless to point out that non-Caucasian ethnicities are significantly underrepresented in sales teams. The second-largest ethnic group proves to be Asians at 11.5%, followed by Hispanics at 10.7%, and Blacks/African-Americans at 7.3%.

What is even more unsettling is the fact that Black sales professionals, although comprising only a small number of the participants in this survey, were much more likely to be affected by discrimination or harassment than any other ethnicity. In fact, 81% of Black respondents reported having experienced racial discrimination in the workplace, Black women being the most affected.

black sales professionals experience discrimination

In light of recent discussions surrounding systemic racism, we believe that it is important to stop and think about what our company can do to help promote an ethnically diverse workplace. And we encourage you to do the same. We hope that these numbers will help dispute the skeptics and encourage the members of our valued community to educate themselves. Let’s remember: most biases are unconscious biases.

Women in Sales

Out of the total respondents, 31.6% identified as women. Looking at LinkedIn’s Women in Sales survey, this number seems fairly representative of the overall Sales workforce. However, as Ashley and Kasey put it, it sits well below the percentage of women in the general US population. This could be a sign of existing barriers that discourage women to pursue a career in sales. 

women in sales

In total honesty, we at VanillaSoft have found ourselves experiencing this situation: Generally, the number of male applicants (65%) largely surpasses the number of female applicants (35%). This is why it is important to promote a company culture that celebrates the diversity of voices. And a great way to foster gender equality is by shining a spotlight on successful women who deserve praise for their contribution to the Sales community. For instance, VanillaSoft launched the Women in Sales initiative in March 2020 as part of Women’s History Month. With the help of strong female leaders, we were able to put forward the wisdom of some of the best in our field and inspire other women to do the same. We also believe in sponsoring groups working to increase the participation of women in sales, which is another way to help diversify our community.

The LGBTQ+ Community

Surprisingly, The State of Sales survey revealed a percentage of professionals identifying as LGBTQ+ higher than the national US average. However, the questionnaire did not ask if these respondents were open about their sexual identity in the workplace and, sadly, most of them probably aren’t. Ashleigh and Kasey have found that sales professionals identifying as LGBTQ+ were 21 times more likely than straight respondents to experience discrimination or harassment because of their sexual orientation and/or identity. 

LGBTQ+ sales professionals experience discrimination

As sellers, we are exposed to a wide variety of customers on a daily basis, and it is our job to be adequately equipped to have meaningful interactions with them. In other words, the more supportive and comprehensive you show yourself to be with your clients, the better you are at your job. We don’t think that it should be any different when it comes to your coworkers.

The Awareness Gap

The last point we would like to go over together is the issue of the awareness gap. As explained by Ashleigh and Kasey, the awareness gap exists in the divide between the professionals who have never witnessed nor experienced discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace and their coworkers who have. It is that unintentional ignorance of the difficulties encountered by the minorities in our community. 

The State of Sales survey pointed out that 71% of the respondents who think that discrimination never or rarely happens are Caucasian. It’s a fact – as part of the majority group, understanding something that you have no personal experience with is hard. But it should not make your more vulnerable coworker’s life hard as well.

It’s Time to Listen and Hear the Voices

At VanillaSoft, we believe in going beyond non-discrimination policies. We believe that creating an inclusive and safe work environment is a collective effort. In fact, supporting and promoting our differences is a collective effort. So, let’s make sure that every single voice is heard because that is what makes our Sales community so special: diversity.

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diversity in sales
 

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