Sales Culture: Compromising Your Ethics
Over the last few weeks several stories of sales professionals being asked to do unethical things for sales have poured in. We know this isn't a new problem, somehow in the world of striving for VC money and media attention it seems to be getting worse. In the landscape of the Me Too movement and the formation of Times Up Now foundation, it seems almost too risky for these conversations to be taking place. Surprisingly they still are.
Perfrm is taking a stand and we are committed to standing with you. Being required to or even asked to compromise your ethics and morales to bring money to your company is not ok and in many instances it is illegal. In this post we are going to be very direct and blunt about the common things sales professionals are "asked" to do in order to keep their jobs.
Too often taking clients out for drinks really translates to taking them to engage in illegal activities. We have heard stories of sales reps being told to arranging prostitutes for clients and being told not to speak of situations they are put in with narcotics. Several women have told stories of CEO's telling them to do "whatever it takes" when they've asked for advice about clients making sexual advances towards them. I have personally had managers, VP's and even a CEO tell me to show off my assets more and even be as blunt as "men will buy from you if you play the dumb, happy sales girl with big breasts, who will do anything for a sale", that person then winked at me.
I want these posts to be a conversation of how we can stand up for ourselves and support each other. I have a strategy I have used to make my point. There have almost always been negative consequences within whatever organization I've worked for because of this stance. These have ranged from passive aggressive behavior from managers and executives to falsely being written up and even being forced to quit a job. Here's the plus, I've never woke up and felt guilty or "bad" about something I've done to get a sale and I've always been able to find a new job when necessary.
Tips for taking an ethical stand:
1.) Say no! The minute you are asked to compromise your ethics; strongly say no. You can explain your issues with the request but make it very clear you are not willing to do that thing
2.) What if no doesn't work? Put it in writing and cc HR. If you don't have an HR department cc your executive team. This may seem extreme, however the more extreme part here is that you are being asked to do something unethical and no wasn't an acceptable answer.
3.) Still not working? Do some legal research. Is what your being asked to do illegal? Chances are it is! Send the same people a follow up email stating the laws they are breaking. Escalate this issue to anyone your executives have to answer to. Investors will listen to these issues and I promise you, it's as unacceptable to them as it is to you.
4.) No luck? Start looking for a new job and contact a lawyer. I'm not joking here. You are important and you shouldn't be working for a company that values a dollar more than their employees.
Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments.