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1. Introduction 2
2. Question 1: What problems do women face in business-to-business selling? 2
3. Question 2: What do the exhibits in the case suggest? 3
4. Question 3: What do the focus group interviews reveals? 4
5. What actions should CCLI take concerning Renoldi’s suit? 5
6. What actions should CCLI take to avoid future (similar) problems? 6
7. Conclusion 6
Incorporated in Los Angeles in 1961, the California Credit Life Insurance Group had expanded its business from all types of life insurance to various kind of insurance covering health, automobile, professional liability, pensions as well as retirement program. The South Eastern Region which is about to be discussed in the case analysis was set up in year 2003 with the sale manger being James Bradford. There are one third of the sale reps being women and this case analysis would be further to the case stated in the text book starting from p.356 with the topic to find out whether there should be any sex discrimination claimed by Renoldi who join the South Eastern Region in 2003.
2. Question 1: What problems do women face in business-to-business selling?
The first question to be analyzed is about the general issues women face in business-to-business selling. We had concluded six problems as following:-
a. Balancing Social life with work life
b. Organizational culture – men feel threaten, unsupportive attitude
c. Lack of job credibility- incapability
d. Office romance
e. A suitable advisor for women
f. Adverse attitude between male and female
For instance, there are several scenarios where the issues marked with F would happen. First of all, when male players would not allow the female to join their social group the adverse attitude between male and female would happen; secondly, the issue would also happen when male counterparts are impatient on the late review and also last but not least, women in some degree are considered by some male as “should not be involved in the business”.
On the other hand, balancing social life with work life is another major topic when the topic of work life for female is mentioned. Regardless of the business life, in general social understanding, female is usually assigned social roles such as mother (to take care of the life of children) and wife (to take care the life of the husband) which could be time and energy consuming, and thus it increases the pressure faced by the female sale reps in their business-to-business selling behaviors compared to their male counterparts.
3. Question 2: What do the exhibits in the case suggest?
While everyone could have different opinion upon the topic of sex discrimination in the business environment, data usually speaks louder. The exhibits shown in the case study do suggest something that cannot be dined by everyone.
The exhibit no.1 suggested the degree to which sale reps are successful in catching with the quotas set by the sale manager from 2003 to 2009. This exhibit actually provides very strong evidence as the sale quota was achieved by Renoldi for the beginning years of this term while the quota achieving became downwards for the latest two year results. And it actually reflects that there might be problem with Renoldi herself rather than with the quota setting as she managed to achieve the targets in the beginning years. In another case, the exhibit 3 reviews the sales rep’s performance from direct manager, Renoldi did received two “Y”s in the final year of 2009 which means that there is not obvious unlikeness from the direct manager of Renoldi and so does the claimed gender discrimination. Another typical scenario happens to be found in exhibit no.5 which indicated the level of job satisfaction scores for the sales representatives by sex for the southeastern region and the entire company. From the table we can see that there is no strong evidence suggesting that female were discriminated because if the case of female discrimination would be true not doubt that the score of satisfaction marked by female staffs would be much lower than that of the male counterpart in the region as well as that it would be lower than the average score in the entire company. But obvious we do not observe these results which to some degree render the assumption of female discrimination obsolete. Similar cases could also be found in other exhibits.
4. Question 3: What do the focus group interviews reveals?
The focus group interviews revealed a number of problems by women sale reps from a variety of selling positions. First of all, there is a lack of support from the manager; secondly, the compensation plan may not be favorable to women; thirdly, the promotion policy could favor the male counterparts rather than the women; fourthly, communication could become a major issue as male customers in many case considered that female sale reps should stay at home rather than going out for business activities; fifthly, the lack of experience is also an obvious situation and issue that female sale reps need to face.
All these problems actually are not difficult for general understanding as people tend to accept that female generation has never ever been thoroughly eliminated in our society including the business environment. Therefore, these group interviews focusing on the sale rep position jobs in another way explain the possible root reason behind the case of Renoldi:-
First of all, Renoldi faced difficulty with the male customers as some male customers may directly speak out their biased view that “female sale reps should stay at home rather than going out for business activities” as mentioned above.
Secondly, Renoldi may not get sufficient support from the direct manager in helping her to overcome the difficulty faced in the job assignments. And obviously we can not exclude the possibility that Renoldi did not want to share with her manager about this and even assume that her manager would not be able to assist her in such cases.
Thirdly, what Renoldi faced are general difficulties that a typical female sale rep could faced in any industry and thus what her received was not gender discrimination but problems that are not company specific.
5. What actions should CCLI take concerning Renoldi’s suit?
Firstly, Flangan needs to see complete complaint and personally discuss the situation with both Renoldi and Branford. Secondly she has to gather as much information as possible from company sources. At the end she has to make decision about situation based on analysing data. In this very beginning step, what CCLI should focus is not to jump to any conclusion before whole events and relevant stakeholders are investigated / consulted.
Secondly, as this situation arises because of several reasons so, CCLI should clarify about the main reason for job dissatisfaction among sales reps women in south-eastern reps. and as a matter of fact finding the main reason for dissatisfaction among women maybe can help to solve this problem an even avoid future repetition.
Another problem that needs to be probed into is that why women sales representatives are highly dissatisfied about their supervisor. There could be more to be done by the company to address this common effect and provide more instructions to these supervisors in handling the female subordinates who could be in minority in the region.
6. What actions should CCLI take to avoid future (similar) problems?
First of all, regular survey in form of satisfaction survey could be done to examine the level of female satisfaction and abnormal drop of such score could be hint of the possible female discrimination in the work place which should be controlled and even eliminated in some degree.
Secondly, a well implemented open door policy could be early treatment to some serious case like Renoldi as a good open door policy would enable any one to directly talk over senior management regarding their complaints over any subjects.
Thirdly, a really serious reason behind Renoldi case is fact that the percentage of female reps is low which resulted in the less-developed company culture to take care of women while the male culture takes dominance. Therefore a very simple solution could be to enlarge the female percentage by deliberately recruiting more female reps to settle similar issues fundamentally.
Fourthly, external problems should also be taken into consideration such as family issues. Company should follow the similar industrial practices to adopt methods such as setting up day-care center for children to provide more support for the female staffs to settle their family concern and thus put more energy and time into the business to business selling activities.
While this case analysis actually reflect a very crucial fact that women are to some degree always discriminated to some extent, and such discrimination may not be company or industry specific which results in the conclusion that it can not be avoid completely. But on the other hand, solutions could and should still be done / provided by the companies to assist the better resolutions of such female discrimination. And another topic that is missed in the case is that women should also adjust to the biased business environment from both daily life as well as business life.