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Women face many barriers in trying to reach the top ranks in business-to-business (B2B) sales organizations, and to be compensated fairly, and a recent research report in the Journal of Selling lays out those challenges and ways to overcome them.

Only a third of B2B sellers are women and the representation is even less in senior sales leadership. Over the past few months, Mary Shea, Matthew Flug, and Jennifer Zhang from Forrester conducted extensive research and interviewed a powerhouse of B2B sales leaders to break down the unique barriers facing women in sales and prescribe actions business leaders, policymakers, academics, and rising female sales professionals can take to bridge the gap.

In the report, It’s Time to Move Past Lean-In: Breaking Institutional Barriers to Empower Female Sales Leaders, the authors identify obstacles faced disproportionately by women, including “struggles in having their voices heard, acquiring the confidence to put forth their ideas, adopting authentic leadership styles, and gaining compensation equity.”

An underlying obstacle, surely, is the general culture of the business world. The report cites statistics showing that “Women make up half of the US and global population but hold only 7.4% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies. Eighty-five percent of venture investment goes to all-male led companies even though female entrepreneurs are more likely than their male counterparts to build companies that become cashflow positive.”

Pay equity is the biggest challenge

But the most “persistent and insidious challenge” faced by women in B2B, according to the researchers, is gender pay inequity. “Every female sales leader we interviewed said they were paid less than a similarly situated male counterpart at some point during their careers. Our experts believe the solution lies in organizational transparency.” beqom co-founder and CMO Tanya Jansen, quoted in the article, agreed, noting that in the early days of beqom, over a decade ago, gender pay equity was “a completely taboo topic.” 

Transparency and analytic tools are key to solving pay inequality

According to the researchers, the solution to pay inequity lies in bringing it to light. “Our experts believe the solution lies in organizational transparency.”

Even now, research by Forrester reveals that only 51% of B2B companies have formal processes and policies around gender pay equity. Say the authors, “Until there is transparency, visibility, and tools to shine the light on gender pay inequities, this will be a difficult problem to solve. The good news is we are starting to see the emergence of visual tools that can quickly surface compensation disparities and provide recommendations to stakeholders.”

The report again quoted beqom’s Tanya Jansen: “The more transparent we are, the more equal we will be. The first step is getting the right stakeholders to take the concept seriously. Once you do that, you must assess where you are, and from there, you must have a target you want to reach every year.”

Technology to address pay equity

So, if the organization has a commitment to address pay equality, the next step is to have a compensation management platform with the capabilities to surface the issues and help you find the solution through root cause analysis and remedial planning.

beqom’s AI-driven compensation software helps you identify inequities in pay, including your firm’s potential gender pay equity gap, and automates the process of ensuring fair and compliant pay practices.

To learn how beqom can shine a light on potential pay equity issues in your organization that may be disenfranchising a key segment of your talent and creating risk and compliance issues, contact us to speak to one of our compensation experts.