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Employee Engagement

Female salespeople have seen a 8% decrease in financial incentives since the start of the pandemic, compared to only a 1% decrease for men, according to a CRM platform HubSpot’s latest research.

This financial disparity comes, despite the effect of remote working on workplace culture having generally improved attitudes towards gender equality and women in the workplace. 59% of respondents agree that their working environment has become less competitive and more collaborative, which has had a positive impact on gender equality in their workplace. Additionally, over three quarters (76%) of respondents feel that the new changes have made it easier for colleagues to balance work with family or personal life requirements.

These findings come from HubSpot’s Sales Enablement Survey: UK Changing Culture report, which explores how business cultures and approaches to working have adapted since the start of the pandemic.

36% of organisations are now working fully remote, compared to just 22% before COVID-19, highlighting a 14% increased shift towards remote working. In terms of sales teams, just 23% are fully in the office, compared to 32% before the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, two thirds (66%) of respondents reported that their workplace culture has changed due to the adoption of remote working.

However, the changes brought about by remote working have not been well received by everyone. Despite the positive changes on work-life balance, especially for female colleagues, overall, only 14% believe that the changes have made work feel more inclusive. Additionally, 42% of salespeople reported that the culture change has left people feeling isolated, with 12% feeling that their company culture has significantly eroded. On the flip side, 22% said this year has increased feelings of trust between employees and employers, and 17% noticed more support for employees.

The widening gender gap 

HubSpot’s findings also reveal that diversity and inclusion need to be a continued focus for organisations, despite women’s reported success in the current remote working climate. There continues to be a very present gender imbalance in UK sales teams, with the average workplace being 62% male and 38% female. Interestingly, the ratio is most equal in larger (250+ employee) companies:  54% male, 46% female, a difference of 8%. This is slightly better than the 8.3% difference in the employment rate in the UK when split by gender.

In addition to this, the pandemic has exacerbated the inequity in how male and female sales representatives are being incentivised. Before the pandemic, women were 16% less likely to be offered financial bonuses compared to male colleagues. Instead, 23% of female employees were incentivised with vouchers compared to just 8% of their male colleagues. Women were also twice as likely to be offered a holiday compared to men. Concerningly, the percentage of women offered financial bonuses has dropped from 41% to 33% since the beginning of the pandemic, while the percentage has only dropped 1% for men, down to 56%.

Remote hiring on the rise

The flexibility of remote working is encouraging some companies to change their hiring practices. 16% of companies are reportedly less focused on location with some removing geographic requirements altogether. Moreover, 24% of organisations are offering flexible working hours, showing a big step towards diversifying sales companies. A significant 78% of respondents feel the greater flexibility available at work has made it easier for working mums or carers to take on job roles that they would have previously been unable to commit to and 76% feel that the new changes have made it easier for colleagues to balance work with family or personal life requirements.

Katie Burke, Chief People Officer at HubSpot said: “Access to a career in tech shouldn’t be determined by your zip code. A greater embrace for remote work can help to redistribute economic opportunity and build more diverse and equitable workforces. As we build a hybrid company at HubSpot, we’re excited about the possibilities remote work opens up for talented individuals who may not have had the option to pursue a job they love from where they are.”

Implementing soft skills in sales

While two in five UK sales professionals admit that they are missing sales because they struggle to read people properly over digital channels, there has been a rise in the importance of ‘soft’ skills which appears to play to women’s strengths. Over half (60%) of respondents agree that women, in particular, have excelled during the pandemic because they tend to be able to lead with a strong sense of empathy when engaging with customers.

Similarly, 62% of sales reps feel that listening has become more important since COVID-19. 52% report an increased need for patience, 48% for empathy and 35% for organisational skills. Only 6% feel that bullishness has become more important.

Ed Barrett, VP of Sales, EMEA at HubSpot commented, “It is striking that while a majority of salespeople recognise that their female colleagues are taking on more responsibility and performing at a very high level, something only heightened by rolling lockdowns, this is still not translating into appropriate rewards and incentives for women. The pandemic has exacerbated, in some scenarios, existing imbalances across sales teams in the UK, and while the focus for team leaders will be on hitting targets and trying to grow, issues around gender equality cannot fall by the wayside. While the working environment is getting better for families, female salespeople are still missing out.”

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