Tech firms can leverage their industry to build diverse sales teams, PointClickCare VP Joan Leroux says

In an industry frequently – and accurately – criticized for its lack of gender diversity, Mississauga, Ont.-based senior care cloud platform developer PointClickCare is bucking the trend – and its chosen field might have something to do with it.

During an appearance at the Future of Sales in Canada, an event held by the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) on Jan. 10, 2017, PointClickCare senior vice president of sales Joan Leroux told CDN that despite its relative youth as a company (it was founded in 2000), PointClickCare’s gender parity is near 50 per cent at every levels of its business and has become intrinsic to the company’s culture.

The company’s product, which allows long-term care providers to more effectively support their patients and residents, is a key contributor to that success, she noted, especially when attracting younger applicants.

“Millennials especially are looking for a role that has deeper meaning and personal resonance as they enter the workforce,” Leroux said. “They appreciate that we are working towards a greater good, and that really plays to their sense of engagement, increasing their desire to be a long-term employee and build their career with us.”

“It’s become part of our cultural fibre – that a multitude of voices and perspectives make us all better and give us that competitive advantage,” she added.

During the same event, Microsoft modern workplace general manager Jordan Sheridan told CDN that he’s observed a similar pattern in his own staff, noting that he often pitches sales as a viable career path for people with a passion for technology.

“If you have a passion for technology… there are a number of things you can do in the field with it,” he said. “You could be a consultant who helps people implement solutions, or if you have a passion for dealing with people and helping them solve problems, you could be a salesperson.”

However, Sheridan also noted that among his sales teams he’s noticed that as positions become more technical, gender diversity decreases.

At Microsoft, where Sheridan has run sales teams for 12 years, the company’s sales teams are divided into account executives, technology specialists, solution specialists, and technology solution professionals (“the folks that I expect to be able to go 400-level deep”).

“The account executives need to be technical, but not nearly as deep as a technology solutions professional,” he said. “And historically… I’ve always had a very diverse team, especially on the account executive side of the equation, but as you get more technical, we’ve seen the teams get less diverse.”

Recently, Sheridan added, the company has begun seeing that change – as more women enter STEM programs and discover a passion for technology.

“Our thinking now is that we have to get people of all ranges, whether it be age, culture, or gender, into STEM programs first, so that they’re coming out of university with those technical educations, before moving them into sales,” he said.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former IT World Canada associate editor turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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