Our company distributes the leads that come in to the sales reps. A disturbing pattern has emerged. Our sales manager gives the best leads – multi-million-dollar opportunities – to the male sales reps. The women reps get the leftover one-offs. Do I point this out to our manager or go right to HR? How should I handle this uneven distribution of sales leads I’ve noticed? – Samantha in Calais, Maine
Just reading your inquiry makes my blood boil. I’m going to start with some of my own questions. Are there other women sales reps? Do the women sales reps have equivalent tenure and experience? Assuming the answers are a resounding yes, then begin with your female peers. Have coffee or a meal offsite and discuss the situation. Do they have the same perception? Are you able to document the gender bias? Chart all of the leads, lead value, and assigned sales rep. Ask your peers to join you in a discussion with your manager.
Schedule the meeting with your manager and present your concerns. Your approach should be open and balanced. Your manager may be completely unaware of his gender bias when distributing the leads. Share the lead chart with your manager. Unless the manager agrees to deliver an equitable balance over the coming months, and then actually does it, take your peers and evidence to HR. This biased lead distribution is creating a massive future income disparity for the female sales reps. Your company must demonstrate their commitment to transparency and gender equity. If not, your next step is the EEOC and a potential lawsuit.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.