Typically the open-ended questions I ask on this blog don’t really have an answer. But in this case, I have a definitive opinion: “Hell, yeah.”
I’ve never had “sales” in my job title per se, but anyone managing a business division and responsible for a P&L will tell you that you’d better know your product (and your competitors’ product) very, very well. It makes you credible to your customers, to your team, and it means you have a fighting chance at understanding where you’re strong and weak.
For the women I’ve spoken to who work in FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), CPG (consumer packaged goods), fashion, retail or any other female-dominated industry this question of knowing your product is particularly poignant because even in these industries, women don’t run the show.
Recently, Catalyst and Huffington Post put together the above chart and penned an amusingly titled article, “Even Companies that Sell Tampons are Run By Men“. As usual, its very difficult to dissect what’s causing these numbers. Is it choice, pipeline, tradition, sexism (overt or unconscious), hours, other factors, or a combination of all of the above? Articles like this certainly do no harm in increasing awareness of the issue but its always hard to tell what’s really going on inside a company by just looking at the numbers. (From experience, I can tell you this is just as true if you’re a financial analyst trying to understand a company by looking at financial statements alone). I hope that some of the women who’ve worked at these companies openly discuss their experiences at Fairygodboss so there’s a greater understanding — especially for prospective employees — of what’s typically a nuanced situation. With enough voices, I believe there will be a powerful reason for both management to pay attention, analyze the situation and take action.