Flavor Industry: Improving Gender Balance in the Sales Function

5 min

The fragrance and flavor chemicals industry is set to grow steadily during the next few years to close to $35 billion by 2022. The growth in the flavor market means more talent will be needed in all areas, including sales and business development teams. In my experience of helping clients in this market expand their sales function, companies are struggling to achieve a gender balance in this area, with a clear gap in female representation. As these teams grow, gender balance needs to be high on the agenda.   

The chemical industry as a whole is a largely male-dominated sector, with companies hiring between 15-20% women on average across all job roles. In comparison, the flavor market has done well to achieve a gender balance across most functions, especially in areas such as marketing and R&D. However, within the sales function, there is still a lot of work to do to increase the number of women. So, with a limited talent pool, what ratio of female to male staff is achievable right now for sales teams in the industry, and how do you encourage the available top female talent to join your business over a competitor? Here are my recommendations to help your business to work towards achieving gender balance:

1. Find out what ‘good’ looks like

Ideally, every industry, company and department would already have 50% female employees. However, this may not be realistic for all businesses in the flavor chemicals industry. There may not be enough people with the flavor industry knowledge and the necessary business development skills set to make 50% possible at this moment in time.

Assessing the gender balance industry competitors are achieving for different roles is a useful way to set realistic targets to work towards. Having worked with businesses to conduct diversity and inclusion assessments in their markets they have been able to be more strategic with their focus areas and therefore increase the percentage of females in their business. This process can also be done to assess the gender balance in similar industries to see if there are female employees in the sales function that could be retrained to work in the flavor chemical industry. The fragrance market, in particular, is one where we are seeing people at a senior level move over to flavor companies.

2. Hire more women in leadership positions

Whilst recruiting more female leaders in this industry is already crucial for achieving a gender balance in leadership positions, research has shown that having more women in leadership roles increases the percentage of women employed across the whole company. This could be beneficial in the sales department for improving the gender balance of the whole team. The challenge lies in finding the senior-level female talent with the relevant qualifications and industry experience for your business. I have worked with clients to address this by mapping out the organizational structures of competitor organizations as part of a Talent Strategy project to assess the market. This insight allows businesses to identify the senior-level female talent available in the market, which could then be pipelined to work for your organization when a job role becomes available.

3. Develop a strategy to attract talent to your business

In any industry or function struggling to achieve gender balance targets, talented women can afford to be very selective about where they choose to work and what environment and culture they enjoy. In order to encourage female sales professionals to come and work for your business, you need to be offering the packages they are looking for. For example, in a PWC report, 95% of women surveyed feel having the flexibility to be able to balance the demands of their career and personal/family life is important. Does your company offer flexible working hours and the ability to work from home when needed?

Even when you know you are offering everything you need to attract people to work for you, you need to market your business as an employer of choice to attract high-quality candidates. For some clients I find that whilst they are a fantastic place to work, they are not communicating their core messages effectively to those they are looking to attract – they are lacking a careers website, their job adverts focus on the role responsibilities and not what employees get in return and they have no candidate engagement packs. From my experience of helping businesses with the attraction element of their talent strategies, spending some time looking at how your business is perceived in the market and positioning and actively marketing your business as an employer of choice means you will be in a much better position to attract talent in a limited talent pool.

Achieving a gender balance in the sales function is high on the agenda for many in the flavor chemical industry. At CSG we offer a talent strategy service working in partnership with you to achieve your gender balance objectives. We work with you to assess your diversity and inclusion performance against your competitors, map out the available female talent available across the industry and attract top talent to join your business by positioning you as the employer of choice. If you would like to discuss your strategy for working towards a gender balance across your business, email simon.walker@csgtalent.com or call +44 (0) 113 416 6494


Forbes, Business Gender Diversity Solved: More Women Means More Profit 

World Economic Forum, The Key to Closing the Gender Gap? Putting More Women in Charge

PWC, Time to Talk

Technavio, Global Flavors and Fragrances Chemicals Market 2018-2022