Is the Gender Gap Improving?

Research Reveals Perceptions of Progress Toward Gender Diversity Are Misaligned Within Sales Organizations –

Eighty-four percent of chief sales officers (CSOs) report they are satisfied with the gender diversity of their sales organizations; however, men still outnumber women in all levels of the organization, according to Gartner, Inc.

While heads of sales are generally satisfied with the diversity of their organizations, our research found that the gender gap is still large and not getting better despite more attention being paid to the issue. In fact, while many organizations have made progress with hiring women in sales managers and leadership roles, most still fall way behind their male counterparts in similar roles, and perception differences between female and male employees may be the reason why.

Gartner’s State of Gender Diversity in Sales: 2020 Report reveals a misalignment of perceptions on progress toward closing the gender gap in sales organizations among CSOs, sales leaders, and sales reps. Despite CSOs’ efforts to improve gender diversity, nearly three quarters (74%) of female respondents, and more than half of male respondents, reported that their organizations still have a male-dominated sales culture.

Other key findings that indicate an inclusion problem still exists within sales organizations include:

66% of women and 56% of men report that their organizations struggle to retain high-performing female sales professionals.

61% of women believe that they have the same opportunities for advancement as their male counterparts with the same skills and qualifications.

55% of women believe that their company’s nonmonetary rewards appeal equally to men and women. This is down from 2017, when 94% of men and 68% of women agreed that their company’s nonmonetary rewards appeal equally to men and women.

63% of women agreed that women and men have equal access to resources in attaining or exceeding goals at their sales organization.

Gender diversity is not on the rise in sales organizations — and deep misalignments between men’s and women’s perceptions of gender diversity challenges remain. As long as these biases remain, it will be hard for senior leaders to identify how their organizations’ norms and culture need to change to attract high-performing female candidates and retain female sales leaders.

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To effectively improve gender diversity in their sales organizations, heads of sales will need to take a planned and purposeful approach to auditing broad elements of their employee experience — from hiring and recruiting, to retention, advancement, and overall culture — in order to identify and eliminate the outdated policies that are disadvantages to female talent.

This content is adapted from Gartner for Sales Leaders report “State of Gender Diversity in Sales: 2020 Report.”


About Christina Gomez

Christina Gomez is Managing VP with Gartner’s Sales practice. Gartner, Inc. is a research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow. For more information about Gartner, Inc., please visit