SIC 034: Janice B. Gordon – Racial Inequalities In Sales From The UK

In 2020, the world changed. Not only did the pandemic spread across the world, but George Floyd’s death sparked the conversation about racial inequality in both personal and professional settings. Unfortunately, while many companies promised changes, not all came to fruition. In today’s episode of Selling in Color, Donald discusses this topic with Janice B. Gordon, who shares her perspective as a person of color living in England, to learn how these topics were addressed across the pond. 

From the U.K. perspective, the acknowledgment was massive.

  • Janice was born and raised in the U.K., and she was well aware of inequality. However, it wasn’t always acceptable to share those feelings, even at the expense of her personal rights. 
  • A teacher once directly told her she wasn’t smart enough to move on to A-levels (higher education beyond general education in England.)

Particularly for sales, a significant problem is recruitment.

  • Janice eventually earned her MBA, but she fought for everything she earned.
  • Once you get your first job, nobody cares about school grades. But if someone blocks you from moving forward in schooling (which happened to Janice), the barriers to enter the workforce are severe. Because you can’t land that first job.
  • While companies are becoming more inclusive by developing a diverse employee base, that diversity is not reflected in the executive boardroom.

The statistics tell an unsurprising story:

  • In a study researching diversity of people in positions of power (and in terms of ethnic minorities on company boards), there were 85 directors of color in a group of 1050 people. 
  • Less than 10% of directors were people of color, which is typical in sales
  • While 39% of sales-related roles are held by women, only 19% of leadership roles are women-led.
  • Racial biases are still highly prevalent in the United States, and they are hard to escape, espeically in hiring practices.

How can we make a difference and impact these biases in the sales arena?

  • Have a conversation with people who have biases and draw comparisons that help them realize their mistakes.
  • Start pushing back when you (as a person of color) experience a bias. Speaking up will bring awareness and hold others accountable. 
  • Before working at a company, ask the company about the makeup of their senior leadership or board. That will reveal if they follow through with promises of diversity.
  • Some companies might get people of color but then do nothing to change their company culture, meaning people of color might not fit in or feel ostracized.
  • Start with the end goal in mind; look at your customers’ needs and mindset. Are you reflecting that in your mindset?

Check out Janice’s episode on The Sales Evangelist, and listen to Donald’s guest appearance on Janice’s podcast, the Scale Your Sales Podcast. Connect with Janice on LinkedIn for more great sales-related information and knowledge.

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Audio provided by Free SFX and Bensound. Other songs used in the episodes are as follows: The Organ Grinder written by Bradley Jay Hill, performed by Bright Seed, and Produced by Brightseed and Hill.

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