Narrowing the female leadership gap in real estate

Female agents face an upward mobility challenge within the industry. Here’s how real estate brands and brokerages can work to mend the female leadership gap.

A stark lack of of women in leadership positions exists across all industries. The real estate industry, however, could quickly pivot and become the paragon industry when it comes to representation.

Women have always excelled in the field, but statistically have not found themselves in leadership positions. A report titled How Women Brokers are Reinventing Leadership in the 21st Century from the California Association of Realtors — which recently launched its WomanUP!® initiative and hosts an annual conference — found that women are opting out of large brokerages to forge their own paths.

We should celebrate women entrepreneurs starting their own real estate companies, but as an industry — and particularly within larger companies — we need to take a critical look at why so many talented women with the will to lead are not finding these opportunities within traditional brokerages.

It’s clear that real estate has an upward mobility challenge when it comes to female leaders. According to the NAR 2017 Member Profile Report, women account for 67 percent of all real estate agents, yet only 46 percent of non-selling broker-owners are women.

At Coldwell Banker’s annual Leadership Summit in March, we hosted a panel titled, “When Women Lead,” comprised of women leaders from across the country, with the goal of getting to the root cause of this leadership gap. We found that women in real estate often face two common hurdles: a lack of management training and limited opportunities for leadership positions in their offices.

A one-hour panel didn’t begin to scratch the surface, so we have also introduced a series of virtual conferences with Coldwell Banker agents and brokers to continue the conversation. Hearing from women throughout the network has inspired me to find ways to drive change at both the grassroots level, within each office, and throughout the larger network. In mid-March, I hosted our first “Women of Coldwell Banker,” lunch attended by 100 percent of the women in our home office.

Women with the will to lead have many shared experiences — hearing from others who have achieved success helps us all realize that overcoming challenges is possible, when we identify common hurdles we can find better solutions.

It is also important for men in our industry to rise to the occasion and meet their female peers shoulder to shoulder in this fight. Without allies, making progress towards this goal only becomes more challenging.

Conversations, mentorship and training for women are only part of the equation. To bridge the leadership gap, it’s critical that opportunities for growth are offered to talented women in real estate. Training is only effective once it is applied. Paving the path to management and leadership in real estate will inspire future generations and propel our industry forward.

It is imperative for companies and brokerages to build infrastructure within their companies to provide talented, hardworking women with the tools and training, as well as the opportunities, to lead. Creating task forces, hosting summits and sparking conversation will ignite change — first by providing women with a platform to air their challenges and subsequently by influencing organic change throughout the industry.

So, I challenge you all to do your part in accelerating the real estate industry’s progress in narrowing the female leadership gap. Encourage open conversations among peers within your network. Take an honest look at the growth opportunities available for women at your company. Put pen to paper and develop your plan of attack to combat this issue.