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Women Of The Channel 2019: Recognizing The Unique Strengths Women Bring To The Table

While 66 percent of women surveyed by The Channel Company reported that they didn’t believe they had ever been passed over for a raise or promotion because of their gender, 86 percent of women still believe there is a gender gap.

When she was being sequestered to the spa while her male colleagues were headed to the golf course, Monica Winders, worldwide channels marketing services manager for NetApp, took matters into her own hands: She took golf lessons.

Winders, a marketing veteran in the IT industry, is no stranger to being a minority in a male-dominated field. She was very used to being the only woman in a conference room. But she realized that business decisions also happen on the golf course and she didn’t want to be left out.

She didn’t tell anyone, but she bought gear, signed up for private lessons, and started playing. Her plan worked. Her male colleagues started coming to her to listen to her perspectives and opinions more often, they stopped shutting her down, and would even stick up for her during meetings.

“Suddenly they were thinking, ‘Oh, she’s one of us,’ and that felt empowering,” she said. “I wasn’t going to be excluded just because I was ‘a girl.’”

Excluding women is no longer an option. Forty-seven percent of the workforce today is made up of women, according to Fast Company, and 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. were earned by women in 2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But there’s still work to be done. While 66 percent of women surveyed by The Channel Company reported that they didn’t believe they had ever been passed over for a raise or promotion because of their gender, 86 percent of women still believe there is a gender gap.

Gender diversity is good for business, according to author and speaker Michele Thornton Ghee, who’s also currently serving as executive vice president of business development for Endeavor Global Marketing.

“We have power and we don’t use it. When [women] walk through a door, a company is 35 percent more successful,” Ghee said during her keynote last month at The Channel Company’s Women Of The Channel Leadership Summit West event in Palm Springs, Calif.

Many companies, however, are already benefitting from the unique strengths that women bring to the table.

Gina Sandoval, an account executive for Phoenix-based Allbound, which specializes in sales enablement software, is the only female on her team. She’s also the youngest by several years. Being the only woman on the sales team has its challenges, but overall, the experience has been a positive one.

“Everyone’s background and personalities are all so different, but we treat each other like allies,” she said.

Working with customers, however, can be a different story. Sandoval said her age and experience level haven’t helped her win over every single customer, but she combats that by showing them she’s willing to learn and can think outside the box.

“I’m never going to look like a 35-year-old sales or tech guy. But that’s OK, I just need to find what I can control and lean on that,” she said.

Allbound’s startup culture has granted Sandoval the opportunity to “dabble” in many different areas of the business. “I’ve responded to customer support calls, and the team has helped me go through legal things,” she said. “My team has been so supportive of me and I have a few co-workers who are always trying to help me get ahead. It feels like everyone there is excited about my future.”

Since women make up nearly half of the workforce, it’s important for them to act as allies for each other. Once she got to a position of power, Endeavor Global Marketing’s Ghee made sure to bring on more women that were right for the job. Being a champion for one another is something more women leaders need to do because they are not each other’s competition, she said.

Most of all, women need to come in with confidence, Ghee said. “Know you have power when you sit at the table. Women are smart, empathetic listeners. We are actually built to be leaders and we leave it in the back row.”

Over time, other women started to join the golf games, NetApp’s Winders said. “I’m still connected to that group, and we have great stories of playing all over the world,” she said. “I’m still not great at golf, but that’s not point.”

CRN honors nearly 700 women across the channel for their unique strength in its Women Of The Channel list. For more on each honoree, go to the Women of The Channel database on crn.com.

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