Guardian Study Reveals Women Still Aren’t Sold on a Career in Sales

More than 60 percent of women—equivalent to a quarter of the U.S.
population—do not consider sales as a career option

Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), one of the
nation’s largest mutual life insurers, today announced findings from a
new study focused on women and sales careers, and the gender imbalance
that remains across industries despite considerable efforts by many
companies over the past few decades. Guardian’s Closing
the Gender Gap in Sales
study reveals that personal,
cultural and industry barriers still exist for many women considering a
career in sales today. Sixty percent have not even considered a job in
sales, and only 22 percent of women surveyed were even somewhat open to
a career in sales.

Guardian’s study identifies five personal barriers that stifle women’s
interest in sales careers, showing how social norms and women’s career
expectations often collide:

  • Women choose humility over hubris. Ultimately, women fear they
    don’t have the ego-driven personality they need to succeed in sales—77
    percent say they’re not pushy enough for the job.
  • Women stifle their inner swagger. Seventy-two percent say they
    can lead their team to success at work, however women rank being a
    leader 11th among their top traits.
  • Inertia feels safer than risk. One in two women is most
    comfortable sticking to her routine. Women play it safe, which
    influences why they think sales isn’t for them and 57 percent don’t
    know what it would take to be successful in sales.
  • Women are navigating the workforce without a career map. One in
    three women says she doesn’t have a leader to guide her along the way.
    Having a mentor or a roadmap to help navigate what to expect during a
    career change would provide many with a guide toward success.
  • Perfection equals pressure. Eighty percent set the bar very
    high for themselves professionally. Seventy percent of respondents
    indicate that they’d always be stressed and under pressure in a sales

“Across industries, we need to help women overcome the cultural,
personal and industry barriers in order to understand that, based on
what they want in their careers—and in life—sales can be a great fit,”
said Emily Viner, vice president of agency growth and development at
Guardian. “A lack of outreach and open dialogue about the way sales
careers can look means women are unlikely to seek them out, regardless
of industry. Many women are unaware that their functional and emotional
needs can be met by what a sales career can offer.”

“At Guardian, we are committed to making a change, helping women connect
the dots between the type of life they want and what a career in sales
can offer,” said Viner. For women who have considered a sales position
in the past, three-quarters of them would consider it in the future;
suggesting women who have explored a sales opportunity saw it as a
potentially rewarding, meaningful career.

About the Survey

Committed to recruiting, retaining and helping women succeed, Guardian
commissioned Insight Strategy Group and embarked on a study in 2015 to
learn why more women—especially Gen X and Millennial women—are not
attracted to a financial advisor career. The goal was to better
understand what this group of women was searching for in their careers
at different life stages, how this may change over time, and how a
career in sales may resonate with them. This research included
one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and a quantitative survey that
involved speaking with more than 2,000 individuals. The findings
indicate a much bigger conversation that transcends industries and
highlights how women are not sold on sales careers.

About Guardian

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) is one of the
nation’s largest mutual life insurers, with $6.8 billion in capital and
$1.3 billion in operating income (before taxes and dividends to
policyholders) in 2014. Founded in 1860, the company has paid dividends
to policyholders every year since 1868. Its offerings range from life
insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, and investments for
individuals to workplace benefits, such as dental, vision, and 401(k)
plans for businesses. The company has approximately 6,000 employees and
a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 70
agencies nationwide. For more information about Guardian, please visit


The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Ana Sandoval,
Communications Partners
Erin Burke, 631-239-6903