CRN research suggests that the channel is lagging behind both FTSE 250 companies and SMEs when it comes to hiring women - eight per cent of the top 50 UK reseller bosses are women, and 14 per cent of senior teams at those firms (which publicly disclose senior leadership team info) are women.
In light of the publication of these figures, some of the channel's more senior women have called on the industry to do more to recruit women in order to level the playing field and employ a more representative workforce.
But many have been keen to stress that businesses should not hire women for the sake of diversity. With that in mind, as part of our Women in the Channel hub, we've rounded up the views of channel women about the key benefits they and their female colleagues bring to resellers, disties and vendors.
The Davies Review into gender equality on boards found that as of last year, 26 per cent of UK FTSE boards are women, beating its target of 25 per cent.
Sarah Shields, Dell's UK channel boss, said having a more diverse gender mix has far-reaching benefits for companies.
"The strongest reason that diversity is critical is the way that having women in teams and on boards changes the dynamic," she said. "Because women are, by nature, risk averse and able to look at things in different ways. We find on the UK board at Dell that having that female input really does give a much stronger and more meaningful conversation. It's not confrontational and it brings balance. That's the strongest reason any company need a diverse mix. If you have an all-male team, you've got some dynamics to manage. If you've got women in there, you dilute that dynamic and calm the situation down."
Margaret Totten (pictured, right) is managing director of Microsoft partner IA Cubed, which has an all-female leadership team, by coincidence, not design. She said that although her senior team is doing well, many other firms are surprised.
"Having an all-women leadership team makes a difference in a lot of ways," she said. "We all have a very similar mind set. I remember being in a meeting a few years ago - and this isn't the norm - we were sitting around the board table, me and Viv [former CEO] and a few men. One of the senior directors said 'this is so weird, I'm used to the women bringing in the coffee, not sitting around the table'. You do still have those conversations."
Moving from selling to customers, to serving customers
In recent years, companies across the industry have heralded a significant shift in the way customers buy IT equipment and services, with many claiming that much of a customer's buying decisions have been made - thanks to online research - before salespeople are even engaged.
This shift to serving customers, rather than hitting them with the hard sell, is one way that channel firms can really cash in on having women in their sales team, according to QuantiQ marketing director Candice Arnold (pictured, left).
"When it comes to feminine energy, there are books which speak to how women are far more attuned to nurturing relationships and are much more intuitive in their approach to selling and they are humble and caring," she said. "In a world where we have a cultural mind shift from selling to serving [customers] we need to be sympathetic to their challenges and be educated about how our technology solves those challenges.
"A female-led sales action does have an impact on pipeline as we move into a social selling world. Having people who are far more in touch with connections, rather than just closing deals, helps our efforts."
Sharon Maslyn, UK sales director at 8x8, agreed and said: "Women tend to be much more intuitive and have better empathy. So that is something I am looking at when hiring now, and I believe that if I did see more females applying at entry level, they would be successful."
Dell's Shields added that some women tend to consider smaller details which could otherwise be overlooked.
"If you don't see anyone female at the top, you are going to believe your opportunities to progress are limited"
"It's really silly things as well - like don't organise meetings on the golf course," she said. "Not because women don't play golf, it is become some guys don't either. And don't take customers out for a meal or a conference where food is served during Ramadan. It's about being mindful. You've got to have that female mix for that reason."
Female role models
Despite the IT industry being dominated by men, a number of women have succeeded in senior roles. The likes of Meg Whitman and Ginni Rometty have run HPE (formerly HP) and IBM for years, and Cindy Rose and Gavriella Schuster have recently been appointed at Microsoft as UK CEO and channel chief respectively. The foursome are just a few of the senior female role models throughout the industry.
Having women in top positions such as these is essential in inspiring the next generation, according to 8x8's Maslyn.
"When I first started, [the industry] was very male dominated," she said. "I progressed quite quickly and moved up. Lucy Wood was our CEO [of Verizon] at that time, so I've always had strong female leadership to look up to. Gender was no issue for me because I had these senior managers who were already successful, so I could see a path for me to get there.
"I think [female role models] definitely help. If you don't see anyone female at the top, you are going to believe your opportunities to progress are limited."
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany