This past week, readers reacted with outrage to the article about how National Association of Realtors top employees and board members are compensated. Several people suggested that NAR’s top brass gets paid too much.

  • The number of top positions at NAR that are held by men is disheartening considering that 62 percent of members are women.
  • NAR isn't a democracy. We are stuck with the appointed.
  • There are real estate family dynasties among NAR leadership.

This past week, readers reacted with outrage to the article about how National Association of Realtors’ top employees and board members are compensated. Several people suggested that NAR’s top brass gets paid too much.

I don’t know a thing about compensation or how much a person should be paid. I have not had a job since 2002. I hire people by the job or real estate agents as independent contractors, whom I don’t have to pay a dime to until their sale closes.

Maybe it’s hard to get good help for less than a couple hundred thousand dollars plus travel expenses — I really don’t know.

What struck me was the number of top jobs and positions that are held by men — in an organization with a membership that is 62 percent women.

I still can’t get past it. I don’t know much about the jobs, but it seems strange to me that our leadership is so demographically different than our membership — or even the general population.

NAR leaders, employees and committee members jump at the chance to give me reasons for the disparity when I ask why there are so few women in the top leadership and top paying jobs. They send me emails, direct messages and respond to my comments on the internet and in Facebook groups.

NAR isn’t a democracy, and I don’t have a representative to talk to. Members who are not appointed leaders do not have a say in how the organization runs. Leaders are appointed by people who were appointed. Appointees are people who we like, not people who are going to ask the hard questions, disagree with anyone or become a thorn in anyone’s side.

My top 10 favorite reasons (excuses) women aren’t NAR leaders

Here are some of the reasons I have been given as to why so few leadership positions in the NAR are held by women:

  1. Change takes a long time, and it’s a slow process. (NAR has only been around since 1908).
  2. NAR even discriminates against men sometimes; that is just the way it is.
  3. Women need to get more involved and to step up to the plate.
  4. There are other groups of people who have it much harder in life than women have it, and they are also underrepresented in NAR leadership.
  5. The only way the system can change is to work within the system, but we don’t have any openings. Please keep trying every year. Get more involved in your local association too.
  6. There are other organizations in other industries where men fill most of the top positions. Some are even worse than NAR.
  7. We need to focus our resources on getting more young people involved because they are the future.
  8. NAR has been preserving the Mortgage Interest Tax deduction, and without it, fewer people would want to own homes. (What?)
  9. Speaking out against the NAR can hurt the reputations of other members and the organization as it fights to preserve homeownership.
  10. It isn’t the fault of NAR that its discriminates against women. It isn’t by design; it just kind of happens. (My personal favorite)

As I read the comments from people upset about high salaries, I kept thinking that if more women were in those positions, compensation would go down by 30 percent in keeping with compensation for women in general, but that is a separate issue.

Hello again, 1980

When I think about the reasons I have been given by NAR leaders and employees about the lack of women in leadership positions, I’m reminded of the things I was told as a woman entering the workforce in the 1980s. In fact, the 1980s might call and ask for their reasons back.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, they would tell us that it all takes time, that we need to be patient and that if we complain, people wouldn’t like to work with us. There were reasons I was paid less than my male colleagues, and it would only make matters worse for me if I complained.

It did get worse after I complained, but I got a nice raise out of the deal and the courage to quit the job.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful that I am self-employed. As the owner of a company, I don’t even have to work my way up any hierarchy. I don’t need a committee to change something, and if I make a mistake, I can usually fix it instead of being forced to live with it. I can invent, create and use my brain. No one can stop me if I decide to speak up or out. Each day is a new day with new opportunities.

I’ll admit I don’t understand the NAR. I have been told that as a member of the NAR, I am held to a higher standard. I think it’s time to hold NAR to a much higher standard and raise the bar on how women are treated by NAR and the real estate industry in general. NAR needs to set a better example for the rest of the industry.

If someone asked me what needs to be done, which of course could never happen, my suggestion would be to hire an expert to put a team together and give the team 18 months to totally structure the NAR into a lean, mean and fairly flat machine to replace the current unwieldy system of numerous committees filled with people who are appointed by people who were appointed by people.

There are real estate family dynasties among the leadership. What a shame when we have over a million members to choose from.

I have been told that I am too outspoken to be appointed to a committee and that I would not be fun to work with. I am way too outspoken, and I have too much experience in leadership positions on the boards of non-profits. I would not be a good fit, but I can write. Maybe writing is a way I can do my part to help the NAR change.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of

Email Teresa Boardman.

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