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Gartner Says Chief Sales Officers Are Satisfied with Gender Diversity, Yet Women Remain Underrepresented at All Levels

New 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,” said Cristina Gomez, managing vice president in Gartner’s Sales practice. “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,” added Mrs. Gomez. “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.”

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.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can learn more about the initiatives that should be pursued in order to close the gender gap in the report “State of Gender Diversity in Sales: 2020 Report.”

About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference

Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference, taking place October 6-8, 2020 in Las Vegas, sales leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, sales enablement and sales operations. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.

About Gartner for Sales Leaders

Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential, and optimize sales force enablement. Follow news and updates from the Gartner Sales Practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSales.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading 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.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 15,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit

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