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So, what’s next for our industry after the bombshell New York Times article dropped this weekend? Hopefully, it’s a reckoning.  Twenty-nine brave women stepped forward after their numerous complaints were allegedly ignored by NAR’s leadership team.

The article’s comment section was closed after 343 public comments, where even more women and men shared their own personal accounts that the culture at NAR is broken and toxic, of course this is all personal stories about alleged behaviors they have observed.

Update: Following publication of the NYT story on Saturday morning, NAR President Kenny Parcell resigned before the end of the day on Monday. Find out more: NAR President Kenny Parcell resigns after NYT exposé

The biggest thing that stood out to me is the timeline of events; there was ample opportunity to avoid this “negative” piece against the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as CEO Bob Goldberg referred to Saturday’s tell-all, no holding back article about what it was/is like for women at NAR working with President Kenny Parcell. It’s time to end the toxic workplace, board and elected behavior. It starts with you, the member, and making grassroots changes in your daily life.

Kenny’s Code

If NAR had followed its code of conduct, I would argue that Parcell wouldn’t have lasted two weeks in his current position if all of the personal accounts described in the NYT piece about Parcell’s alleged behavior were even close to being accurate. I encourage each member of NAR to read the article, the comments, and research the entire situation themselves to understand exactly what is going on.

But here is the problem, and it’s a big one: This over-the-top, loud fraternity/I’m an influential businessman culture has been an acceptable part of our industry since before women could get a mortgage.

What’s worse is a “father knows best” attitude continues as most upper-level leaders bring it with them up the ranks, and in return, it doesn’t make for well-rounded leaders; instead, it makes leaders more interested in building legacies instead of manifesting real and needed change.

They often craft personal words to live by to sell to everyone around them about how great they are. Earlier this year, Parcell shared in a NAR post his motto for living his best life.

Kenny’s words to live by, Courtesy of NAR

Many times, these individuals have extreme confidence in themselves and their abilities; they are often surrounded by other individuals who give them praise and recognition for minimal work, leading to an atmosphere where they are their own biggest fans and have a great deal of self-celebration.

Many of their pet projects or marketing ideas are vanity projects and not necessarily a read on what the core audience or consumer needs. They think good marketing shows off wealth signals like boats, cars, motorcycles, cigars, whiskey, golf tournaments and luxury experiences.

You know, cool boys with cool toys.

Vanity projects and custom belt buckles


The Riding with the Brand theme harkens back to a tradition in the Old West.

“When cowboys rode for a brand, it meant they had signed on to the mission, goals and aims of the ranch owner,” Parcell says. “It also meant they promised to protect the brand as though it were their own.


This couldn’t be more textbook.  This summer’s hottest movie, Barbie, had a whole plot line dedicated to men, horses and wanting to be in charge.


“Narcissistic leaders have personalities that are profoundly grandiose, overconfident, dishonest, credit-stealing, and blame-throwing, according to Chatman. They are abusive to their subordinates, think they are superior, don’t listen to experts, create conflict, and believe the rules simply don’t apply to them. They can explode in rage at any sign of disagreement or disloyalty. There’s always an “I” in their conception of the team.” – Mickey Butts, How Narcissitc Leaders Make Organizatoins Less Ethical

Bad management

It’s 2023, and I must continually check my calendar because I’m often in disbelief that problems like this are still this bad. Still, in all actuality, until everyone recognizes that this is a severe problem and refuses to tolerate it — it will never change. You have to stand up for yourself. You have to stop looking the other way.

Here is a short list of things no one should tolerate in their work environment 

  • Inappropriate jokes, memes
  • Co-workers drinking to excess at office events
  • Having to walk on eggshells because someone is in a bad mood
  • Having no flexibility for kid care, doctor’s appointments, or vacations, accommodations for disabilities or illness without a significant hassle or over-explaining it
  • Touching of any kind without permission
  • We are all in a “family” culture where you are pressured to be loyal at your own personal expense
  • Feeling uncomfortable taking a lunch break
  • Public humiliation at meetings as a form of “motivation.”
  • Getting called into the “principal’s office” to get reprimanded like a child
  • Emotional abuse or manipulation
  • Terrible mileage and bookkeeping procedures that cause you to use personal funds to complete business tasks
  • Poor raise and bonus structure that is not fair market rate
  • Taking on extra work because you don’t want to cause problems
  • Listening to anyone have a tantrum, yell and slam things around
  • Text messages, calls or meetings after hours
  • Constantly being asked to do more than your job description
  • Comments about your appearance
  • Being afraid to come to management with issues because you fear their reaction
  • No respect for personal workspace or items
  • Constant interruptions, no respect for an individual workflow
  • Weaponized incompetence (Never cleaning up after themselves, not knowing how to use essential office equipment, constantly asking you to do tasks because you are better at it)

I’ve found in my experience that bad management often protects the worst offenders of these “office crimes” because one thing the boys are good at is sticking together and promoting each other. How do I know this? How does any woman know this? Personal experience.

Ask any woman about a single job they have had in their lifetime, and they will tell you a story where they felt uncomfortable, underpaid, taken advantage of, overworked and underappreciated. To not be offered the same level of pay or respect because they are not head of household or even viewed as one because they aren’t a “man with a family.”

We’re sold a lie that it will eventually pay off if we keep working harder. If you keep moving forward, you will be invited to the table. But what nobody tells you is that the table may be filled with people you don’t want to sit next to.

You can work so hard and then find out that the people at the top are gross, and all the change you thought you could do will constantly be battled by men who roll their eyes, talk over you and call you a bitch behind your back (or worse, to your face) if you don’t go along to get along.

Consent and setting boundaries is the key to fixing the problem

What all of this comes down to is permission. The reason these situations happen over and over again is because no one is enforcing consent. You have to advocate for yourself and for other women to help stop this bullshit from happening. If you are in a work environment like this, it either needs to change, or you need to leave.

Don’t be afraid to call men out on this bad behavior, and once you get in the habit of it, you will be surprised how well and how quickly it works because they are not used to being called out for it in public.

You don’t have to be nice, and you don’t have to smile and joke about it to excuse this behavior. Just start calling it what it is. Tell management, and if management doesn’t listen or if management is the problem, keep escalating it. Don’t give up. Real change starts at the grassroots level in the real world.

We’re sold a lie that it will eventually pay off if we keep working harder. If you keep moving forward, you will be invited to the table. But what nobody tells you is that the table may be filled with people you don’t want to sit next to.

Here is a short list of things that may help you set your boundaries

Feel free to use these at the office and grocery store. I’ve even used them at the gas station. I’m exhausted by the bad behavior I run into with men I don’t even know in public or at networking events:

  • You do not have permission to touch me, please do not approach me.
  • You do not have permission to talk about that subject around me.
  • You do not have permission to ruin everyone else’s work environment because you cannot control your emotions.
  • Your impulse control problems are not a collective problem but a personal problem for which you need professional help. Keep it to yourself.
  • You do not have permission to completely disregard boundaries other people set because you disagree with them or you deem they are unnecessary.
  • You are not permitted to force your religious or political views on me.
  • You do not have permission to ask personal questions about my life.
  • You do not have permission to comment on my weight, age, or clothing choice because you don’t agree or understand it; I do not need to explain it to you.
  • You don’t have permission to be loud and disruptive all the time because you think that your time is more important than mine.
  • You are not permitted to be in personal spaces you are not invited to.
  • You do not have permission to contact me after business hours.
  • You do not have permission to treat my co-workers with disrespect.

Here is a minimal list of things to ask for from NAR

  • Accountability
  • A safe work environment
  • Responsible use of membership dues
  • The right to opt out: Uncouple MLS and lockbox access from NAR
  • Better RPAC candidate screening
  • Fewer memos and more action
  • Following the code of ethics

Wrapping up

Using Parcell’s own words:

“Our best teacher is our last mistake.” — Kenny Parcell, 2023 President of NAR

This nonsense has gone on long enough; I know you are tired. I know that you are beyond busy. The only way to get leadership like this out is to run against it. These individuals often run unopposed at their local levels because better candidates and representation are too busy to take on these excessive volunteer roles.

It’s time to take some items off your plate, ask your partners to pitch in, and carve out some space to get involved.  You can’t look the other way anymore. We can’t wait for someone else to fix it. You can’t complain but take no action. Take it from Parcell. It will take all of us to make a difference.

“By giving each other our best, we will move the association’s work forward and leave it better than we found it,” Parcell says. “We will be better today than we were yesterday, and we will be better tomorrow than we were today.”


Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram.

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