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Ensure fair distribution of work opportunities

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Does your company employ salespeople who are responsible for meeting certain benchmark goals? If so, be sure you have some way to check that everyone competes on an even footing.

That includes ensuring that things like territories and leads are distributed in a way that doesn’t favor members of one group at the expense of another.

During sales training, address the idea of fairness in divvying up territories and leads. Chances are, you’ll have to argue with some sales managers who insist that a good salesperson can take any territory and create sales. That’s sometimes true, but more often than not, it isn’t.

And if sales managers don’t buy in, you could face a lawsuit.

Recent case: Brooke Grassmyer and several other women who were fired or quit their sales jobs for Shred-It sued, alleging sex discrimination.

They had been hired to sell contracts for shredding services and were each assigned a sales territory to develop. Each had a monthly goal to write orders worth approximately $1,200.

That proved to be a tougher threshold than the women had been led to believe. In fact, they were able to close relatively few sales and began complaining that male salespeople had better territories—such as downtown areas that allowed more sales calls than suburban or rural territories.

The court said the women were entitled to a trial on the discrimination suit, after discovering that many poorly performing men had not been terminated. The court also said the women may have been discriminated against when they didn’t get a fair share of downtown territories—and after hearing a sales manager testify, “Every territory is a good sales territory. It is what the sales representative makes of that territory.” (Grassmyer, et al., v. Shred-It, No. 09-3876, 3rd Cir., 2010)

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