ERA brokers offer ideas to advance women’s leadership roles

ERA Real Estate celebrates Women’s History Month by identifying growth opportunities and how to overcome professional obstacles for women who aspire to leadership positions in real estate. ERA’s Hera Society, the group dedicated to promoting female leadership within the affiliate network and industry, hosted a panel discussion to uncover actionable insights to advance the inclusion of women in real estate leadership .

Representing over 130 years of collective real estate experience, ERA Hera Society panelists explored a range of topics from responding to recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic to redefining mentorship.

“When I started my career in real estate over 30 years ago, there were very few women in leadership positions in the industry. My personal mission has been to champion and guide women who are passionate about our business and want to become future leaders. The benefits of increasing women’s leadership in our industry are clear: we innovate faster with greater diversity and an infusion of new ideas and perspectives. The vast experience and perspectives of the many female leaders not only in the ERA network but across the industry can help prepare and pave the way for aspiring women. The collaborative culture of the ERA Network creates a unique environment where we can tap into the insights, wisdom and insights of our esteemed ERA® Affiliate Women Leaders to help us further this effort in meaningful ways. – Sherry Chris, President and CEO of ERA® Immovable

Impact of COVID-19 on women in real estate

Many have observed that the pandemic has brought several adjustments to the fore, whether it’s virtual work, navigating childcare, or accelerating technology adoption in real estate. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced greater adoption of technology and consumers have finally welcomed the new approaches.

Panelists noted that the integration of Zoom into daily affairs facilitated the expansion of networks in a way that did not happen before Zoom, giving women greater access to ideas, advice and support.

“The full impact of COVID-19 remains to be seen. What we do know is that COVID-19 has proven that real estate is an essential business. He has accelerated the use of technology to connect and serve customers and make the transaction easier and faster while preserving the fundamental human nature of real estate. Overall, I believe women will be the beneficiaries of this shift in our industry as it provides more flexibility to serve their customers differently in a way that fits their multitasking lifestyle. —Anna-Marie Ellison, Managing Partner of ERA King Real Estate headquartered in Anniston, Alabama.

Actionable insights: Leverage technology to serve your customers the way they want and use the flexibility of new ways of working to meet your specific lifestyle needs.

The need to challenge societal norms

The discussion revealed observations about how societal norms still play a role in how girls are raised and educated and, as adults, how women perceive their options and expectations. Whereas women couldn’t have their own credit card before 1977, women are still catching up financially with men as they overcome the prejudices and limitations of the past.

This situation is further compounded by the fact that income disparities can impact women’s access to the capital needed to start a business. Additionally, a huge psychological barrier to opening and operating your own brokerage is taking on the financial risk, whether as a couple or as a sole proprietor.

“In today’s business world, women have every opportunity to be the leaders and owners they want to be. The demands on time and resources can be daunting, so it may be necessary to find creative ways to balance work and personal priorities. I think any woman who has chosen to own a brokerage should be empowered to pursue this opportunity. Yesterday’s traditional roles no longer apply. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right support systems to help you achieve your goals. — Diana Wall, Senior Vice President of Strategic Growth for ERA Real Estate.

Actionable insights: Create more leadership pathways to enhance and expand growth opportunities for women.

Commit to questioning yourself

Raising the bar as a path to increased self-confidence is key to fueling the desire to pursue leadership roles rather than waiting to be asked. Trust can also play an important role in bearing the financial risk of ownership. Stepping into leadership roles means giving up many daily tasks and trusting someone else to do them, often a challenge for multitasking women.

The first sale you need to make is to yourself. In other words, no one will buy into you, your abilities, until you do. Be your biggest fan and your worst critic. — Diana’s wall

“Dream bigger, set the bar higher and don’t doubt yourself because today’s doubts are tomorrow’s limits.” — Haley Burlage, Broker/Co-Owner, ERA MyPro Realty.

Actionable insights: Define your value, own it and exploit it.

Add Business Courses to Real Estate Education

If agents learn to run their business like a business, they will be better prepared to manage and run their own business. Providing more business education courses aligned with real estate schools and continuing education offerings — such as profit and loss management, accounting principles, and return on investment — could better prepare women to own a business. Additionally, the discussion focused on helping future leaders understand the differences between managing employees and independent contractors, which is critical to success.

“The most attended courses offered at our company are those presented by outside business experts, reflecting the desire to elevate the real estate industry. It’s time to fulfill that desire and position everyone for a greater success. Cathi Sullivan, Broker/Owner, ERA Shields Real Estate.

Actionable insights: Local, state and national associations should incorporate business courses into licensing and continuing education requirements.

Recognize the importance of mentors

Mentors are another important factor in promoting women’s confidence as they have unwavering confidence in their mentees. Many mentoring relationships often occur naturally, growing out of mutual trust. However, women looking for a guide or counselor may need to actively expand their networks to increase their chances of finding a mentor. Some people are confused when asked to be a mentor, perhaps because of the commitment involved or the formality of it. Redefining the formal term mentor as having an open door policy for those seeking advice or guidance can increase opportunities for these types of fruitful relationships.

“Creating a personal board or what I call my ‘tribe’ has proven to be a more effective way to reap the benefits of learning from others.” — Gloria Frazier, Broker/Owner, ERA American Real Estate.

“Nothing in my career came without mentorship. Someone was grateful enough for what they had accomplished to pay it forward and share what they learned. Now I’m a mentor for people who are open to such a relationship. Mentorship is the key to advancing women. — Kim Luckie, Director of Business Development, Marketing and Innovation for ERA American Real Estate.

Actionable insights: It is the job of the person who wants a mentor to find one. Seek mentorships with the same attention and dedication that you would seek for a new career opportunity.

The best advice given and received

When asked about the best advice they had received and given, ERA-affiliated leaders had a lot to share:

  • Always look for where your edge lies.
  • Find your voice and use it loud.
  • There’s a big difference between self-centeredness and self-centeredness: It’s okay to be self-centered.
  • Be authentic. Your authentic self is the best version of you and the one that allows you to lead what you love.
  • Stay true to who you are, no matter what.
  • Speak. Contestation. To disagree. Silence is an agreement with the status quo.
  • Ask what you want. Be your own advocate.
  • We all have skills. All we have to do is show them off.

Mara R. Wilmoth