Back in 2021, LinkedIn commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the benefits of having a diverse sales organization. The resulting evaluation led to their report Diversity Drives Sales Success. One of the key findings of the report was that 60% of their respondents indicated that diversity within their sales team had contributed to their teams’ success. As part of our DEI in Sales® program, we at Selling Power sought to find out how Forrester’s findings aligned with the way salespeople and sales leaders currently feel about the state of diversity and inclusion within their sales teams. If the Forrester report was any indication, companies should be striving harder for diversity and inclusion, at least for the benefit of their bottom lines, if not for the fact that it is the right and just action to take.
What we found, however, was a mixed bag of data that indicated we still have a long way to go. It was not surprising, given today’s climate, that we also received some degree of pushback to our survey. What was surprising was the vitriolic nature of many of the responses – most of which cannot be printed. Just a sample of one we could print was, “Are you nuts? Strive for diversity? That’s the problem!”
No, rather the data we collected has highlighted the problem. Of respondents, 28% indicated that they have been denied opportunities or were restricted in advancement due to their CURRENT company’s lack of diversity-and-inclusion efforts.
In addition, only 32% of respondents say their company is doing an excellent job at fostering diversity and inclusion. That means nearly 70% of companies, at the very least, need improvement.
In fact, almost 40% say their company is not doing a good job or, worse, is doing nothing at all. One of the reasons for this could be that 45% say their company either does not have any formal policies or dedicated personnel for diversity and inclusion, or they do not know if their company has such efforts. As might be expected, when looking at members of BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ communities, the percentage of those who say their company is doing an excellent job at fostering diversity and inclusion drops below 30%.
So, within sales organizations, the data would suggest a significant gap between knowing and achieving. A majority of companies acknowledge that a diverse sales organization contributes to its success, but there is still much work to be done to truly achieve such diverse and inclusive sales organizations. It is for this very purpose that we have created and are continually enhancing the DEI in Sales program and are currently working to identify and celebrate some of the most diverse sales organizations operating. You can find out more about participating by completing this form, and we will be continually expanding our efforts in order to help sales organizations achieve their full diversity-and-inclusion potential.
Jeff Campbell is the Chief Operating Officer and head of diversity research for Selling Power.