Women constitute 19% of the sales workforce, and only 13% of sales leadership roles in India, a report brought out by LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network, has said.
New data on the status of Women in Sales in India says that to boost women representation in the Sales function, organizations can use a skills-first approach to hiring that not only ensures sales teams and talent hiring pipelines are more inclusive for women, providing them with equal opportunities to pursue a career in sales but also bodes well for the overall business.
While there is a gender gap in the sales workforce, there are also cities where women are making great strides in sales.
LinkedIn data shows that Tier 1 cities such as Hyderabad (26%), Bengaluru (25%), and Chennai (22%) have the most number of women sales professionals in the country, whereas, sales organizations in tier 2 cities such as Ahmedabad (14%), Lucknow (13%), and Jaipur (13%) promise vast potential to bring more women into their workforces.
The data also shows that while some industries in India Inc. are progressing towards greater diversity in their sales workforce, others still have room for improvement.
The IT services and Retail sectors have shown to be the most inclusive for women, with 27% and 23% of women respectively working in sales roles. On the other hand, the Pharmaceutical (10%), Manufacturing (14%), and Automotive industries (14%) have an opportunity to take more proactive measures to address the gender gap and create a more inclusive and diverse sales workforce.
Ruchee Anand, Senior Director, Talent and Learning Solutions, LinkedIn India said, “There remains a concerning gender gap in sales roles across the country but there is hope on the horizon as employers proactively combat unconscious bias by embracing skills-first hiring. This approach values a professional’s ability and contribution over their gender. Diversity is important across all job functions and especially in sales because it boosts creativity, encourages innovation, and inspires a skills-first culture — all of which is key to business growth and success today. Adopting this skills-first mindset will also ultimately lay the foundation for increased boardroom diversity, bringing a wealth of fresh perspectives and ideas to India’s business world.”
The report said that three in five women in sales come from non-sales roles. A majority (62%) of women hired in sales today come from non-sales functions like marketing and business development.
This trend suggests two important things. Firstly, it highlights the value of having the right transferable skills, which allows women more opportunities to transition to sales roles. Secondly, it indicates that many organizations are already combating unconscious bias by focusing less on degrees, gender, or previous sales experience, and more on finding talent whose skills match the role.