It seems apropos to discuss the advancement of women in the workplace during Women’s History Month and just having celebrated International Women’s Day. While it’s wonderful that we take the time to honor those that have paved the way and raise awareness about current struggles and inequality, we must continue the conversation the other 11 months or 364 days of the year. We have made strides in the right direction by empowering women’s voices, working towards closing the pay gap and ensuring new parents have paid family leave but there is still much work to be done. There is no shortage of opinion and discussion on this topic but it’s imperative we continue the conversation to ensure we continue to drive change.
Where Are We Today?
Today, companies tend to promote female workers at much lower rates than male counterparts and only five percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. More specifically in ad tech sales the ratio of males to females is overwhelmingly uneven; look at senior sales leadership and you’ll find that ratio to be even smaller.
Take it from someone who never envisioned themselves in a sales role growing up, in college or even after a few years in the workforce. The image of sales I was familiar with was that of a pushy car salesman which never appealed to me. Unbeknownst to me was the fact that you can still stay true to yourself while selling a product.
Once I understood this I was excited by the fact that I could be paid for fostering genuine partnerships and building exciting products with intelligent people to drive a free internet. Sounds great, right? So why are women so underrepresented in the sales workforce, making up less than 40 percent, and even less in VP or CXO positions?
Playing to Strengths
While it’s important for companies to identify ways to empower female employees to advance in their career through mentorship, learning opportunities and removing unconscious bias from the interview and promotion process, it’s even more important to call out why we need more women in sales.
Not only are women strong communicators but they deliver – Hubspot reported that women are five percent more likely to close a deal than a man. It makes sense to have a sales team that reflects the makeup of the customer organization they are speaking to; according to a gender diversity survey conducted by Advertising Week and Foresight Factory 73 percent of executives in the media, marketing and creative industries were female.
Sales can play to a woman’s natural strengths of connection, collaboration and preparation so it shouldn’t be a surprise that women are effective sales leaders.
Ways to Close the Gap
How can we ensure our sales forces are adequately stacked from top to bottom with bright female minds? It may sound trivial, but it starts with instilling confidence in young girls. It involves showing them their voice is valuable and ensuring young boys know that girls’ voices matter.
Change can also happen in college. Women should know sales is a satisfying career option should they want to pursue it. Finally, last but not least companies need to place value on the unique but not different perspective women offer. It goes without saying that for a woman to excel in her career within ad tech sales, she must feel supported if she chooses to have a family or not.
I have the privilege of a supportive partner and working for a company that makes the transition back to work manageable. Paid family leave, flexible working schedules, wellness rooms and understanding, supportive managers are all part of what makes it possible. Sales is a demanding job that sometimes requires working outside the normal working hours, making it hard to get home for dinner and bedtime every night. However, knowing customers are happy and we are working to provide a free and open internet is what keeps us going.
My advice to companies looking to improve their bottom line – take the steps to employ more women on your sales teams and make sales accessible for all life stages. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the PubMatic Advertiser Solutions Sales team and I know when my son grows up he will value the contribution of women and working mothers. To learn more about joining our team, check out our open positions and to learn more about what PubMatic is doing to diversity and inclusion, download our latest report.