For the first time in modern American history, both major political parties have women as serious contenders in the primary line-up for the 2016 presidential race. Hillary Clinton is considered the front runner for the Democrats, and Carly Fiorina continues to hold her own on a stage dominated by men. So will 2015 be the year of the woman?
Women make up half of the workforce in America, but according to this report, they earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same or equivalent job. According to the NAR Field Guide for Women in Real Estate, women have been involved in the real estate industry since its inception in 1794 and by the 1880’s were involved as real estate agents and brokers. In the real estate industry, women make up more than half of the REALTOR® population, but are markedly under-represented in the C-suites of the dominant real estate franchises and companies across the nation.
This month, Inforum Center for Leadership released a report about the leadership roles and standing in Michigan’s largest companies. In a statement summarizing the conclusions of the study, Terry Barclay, President and CEO of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership made the following observations:
In 2015 women occupy 11.5 percent of boardroom seats in the state’s top 100 companies – their share down slightly from 11.6 percent since 2013. Women’s representation among the top earners in their companies has declined from 9.6 percent two years ago to 8 percent in 2015. And women today hold 13 percent of executive officer positions – exactly their share in 2013.
There is clearly more work to be done if we are to truly create an environment in which there is equitable opportunity for all Americans to thrive and perform in their chosen fields of excellence. Failing to utilize our talent pool effectively will eventually marginalize our industry because the ability to attract and retain the best people, no matter what gender, color, race, creed, religion, or orientation they come from will be critical for competition on the global stage.
The Women’s Council of REALTORS® general session this year will feature a panel, moderated by Denise Lones, featuring three women who have broken through the glass ceiling into the boardrooms of some major real estate companies. Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens, resurrected an aging brand and created a powerhouse for the new millennium. She will be joined on stage by Tammy Bonnell, a thirty year veteran of the real estate industry and president of the US Corporation of Exit Realty, and Kathy Neu, Executive Director of Keller Williams Cares and President of Luxury Homes.
As I look forward to hearing these veteran pioneers speak, here are some questions on my mind:
- What were some of the critical career moves that you made which provided opportunity or much needed experience that was required to shift into your current role?
- How should women interested in leadership within the industry prepare?
- What role did mentorship play in your career path?
- Why are there not more women in leadership roles in major US real estate brokerages? How can we change that?