International Women’s Day is a global annual event, on Tuesday 8th March, celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality. Together we can forge women’s equality and collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
According to Forbes magazine, reflecting on the findings of UK government research, organisations with more female leaders on their boards “outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.” Other research has found that teams involving women have a higher collective intelligence than teams of only men, and investors are likely to see a business as more competently run than without a mix of genders.
We want to celebrate female Guild Members by asking them a few questions about International Women’s Day and being a woman in estate agency and society.
1. Why is it important to celebrate IWD?
“I feel it is so important to celebrate International Women’s Day as growing up in this industry, dominated by the male workforce, I have seen female colleagues thrive, grow and climb the ladder now more than ever. Women supporting women is a huge passion of mine and it’s great to have a day to celebrate each other.” – Fiona McFall, 16 years at Homes Independent Estate Agents
“It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day to recognise and celebrate that women’s rights are evolving and developing. Women now have a greater diversity of choice and support in the pursuance of their goals and dreams than they ever have before, but that there is still work to do in respect of those facing less favourable social-economic factors in this respect.” – Maria Morgan, Owner of Platinum Properties, over 20 years in estate agency
“This is a day to recognise and promote the efforts being taken worldwide to eliminate discrimination against women. It also helps us focus on helping women gain full and equal participation in the workplace. This is particularly important in Estate Agency where the workforce is male dominated and it’s an opportunity to encourage more female estate agents.” – Abigail Grey, Managing Director of Grey & Co, 19 years in estate agency ”
“Celebrating the achievements that women have pioneered against a natural backdrop of gender inequality is hugely important to ensure successes gained are not reversed.” – Katie Griffin, Owner of Sawdye & Harris, almost 30 years in the industry
“It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day because it gives women a platform to raise issues and do it in a safe and non-judgemental environment.” – Angi Cooney, Owner at C residential, over 30 years in estate agency
“Women need to feel that they are not restricted to go out and start companies and have rewarding careers despite pressures of family life. In particular the finances of providing childcare to accommodate a rewarding and balanced career. I have many friends who feel that they had little choice but to stay at home when their children were small as the comparative cost of childcare is prohibited and sometimes women are judged for their choices. We need to lead by example and celebrate our successes and show that we have the same choices and freedoms as our male counterparts.” – Suzanne Vincent, Director at Urban Village Homes, 30 years in estate agency
“It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day to raise awareness of how far women have come in society, politics and in economics. Women are real ‘players’ in the property industry now and are well accepted by professionals and society alike. In fact more than 90% of our workforce are women.” – Charlotte Burles Corbett, Managing Director at Parkmans, almost 20 years in estate agency
2. Is there a female figure who inspires you and why?
“I could say Michelle Obama, but many people will choose her, so I am going for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This woman is fighting the corner for the underrepresented minorities and women all over the world, she challenges the status quo and calls out corruption. What’s not to like?” – Abigail Grey, Managing Director of Grey & Co, 19 years in estate agency
“My mother inspires me – she was born in an age where women were expected to get married and raise children. She was married at 19 and by 26 had got five children, three of whom were daughters. She never put any of us into stereotypical gender roles and always allowed us to develop as people – there really were no limits, she instilled that we could do and be anything!” – Angi Cooney, Owner at C residential, over 30 years in estate agency
“There are many women who inspire me in different ways, my friends, my sisters, The Queen, Madonna, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana. They are not afraid to stand out from the crowd and go about their business in what they believe in.” – Donna Vincent, Residential Sales Manager at Millbank Estate Agents, 24 years in estate agency
“I am lucky to be surrounded by many inspirational strong women but in fact there are two special women that spring to mind, my own mother and mother in law. Both are the real ‘head’ of our family and both work incredibly hard both in work and at home to support the family and connected businesses. The support they offer to me and the rest of my family is truly wonderful. They each raised strong daughters, and each one of us owe our beliefs to the ‘backbone’ they provided and the ‘can do’ attitude they continue to promote.” – Charlotte Burles Corbett, Managing Director at Parkmans, almost 20 years in estate agency
“My team of divas for one. Strong, knowledgeable women who have worked hard to be respected in their field; and rightly so. They are a formidable force, with ethics, and morals, and a foundation of good working practice based on honest advice not supposition. We can’t all be warriors of great causes (and working in this industry we meet strong, successful women all the time, who are moving mountains daily with meteoric proportion), but we are all warriors in our own right.” – Helen Duncan, Director of Property Divas, established 15-years ago
3. How important is it for women to lift each other up in business and generally in life?
“Very important. Too often we are taught to think of other women as a threat, but we should be treating each other as allies and working together to help each other to succeed.” – Amy Roberts, Branch Manager at Bryan & Keegan, estate agent for over 10 years
“There are so many responsibilities on women, especially working women and women in business. Life’s pressures are immense, so ensuring that not only you, but your family, ‘turn up’ and ‘show up’ in way that appears ‘seamless’ is a constant challenge. Life can be monotonous when there’s always washing to be done or mouths to be fed so lifting other women up and offering inspirational support is something that we should all practice in our daily lives.” – Charlotte Burles Corbett, Managing Director at Parkmans, almost 20 years in estate agency
“A friend of mine runs an estate agency near-by; we’re competitors really but we get together and have lunch every so often and appreciate other factors we juggle such as our growing children, school and the complex family diaries we juggle but mostly how we are enjoying our businesses and how proud we are to have achieved success on our own. Estate agency used to be very male dominated and I started in the industry 30 years ago, it has changed so much since then. It is about time that more women own estate agencies since, statistically, women lead most transactions!” – Suzanne Vincent, Director at Urban Village Homes, 30 years in estate agency
“I think it is particularly important in a male dominated profession for women to stick together. We all share similar knowledge in an industry, regardless of whether we are male or female, but the difficulty can be on social occasions or networking, which can be intimidating for women. By sticking together, we increase confidence and opportunities in these situations.” – Kirsty Keeton, Director at Richard Watkinson & Partners, 23 years in estate agency
4. Why did you choose to become an estate agent?
“I love helping people and I feel being an estate agent is a rewarding job knowing you have helped someone move onto their next journey in their life and hopefully alleviated some of the stress they may have had knowing I have looked after them.” – Donna Vincent, Residential Sales Manager at Millbank Estate Agents, 24 years in estate agency
“I did not chose it, it chose me. At the age of 18 I thought I was interviewing at a travel agents, not realising the window was full of properties! I had to totally ‘wing it’ at the interview, a women boss at the time interviewed me. She gave me a pretty hard time and could tell I was unprepared and knew nothing about property at all! She gave me a trial and I did really well, never looked back!” – Suzanne Vincent, Director at Urban Village Homes, 30 years in estate agency
“My dad was an auctioneer who also sold farms and houses – he loved what he did and this completely transferred to me. In fact you could say, despite being a woman in business I was still influenced by a male role model.” – Katie Griffin, Owner of Sawdye & Harris, almost 30 years in the industry
5. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in estate agency?
“Networking is my biggest key to success. Be bold, get creative and build relationships in the industry. Find mentors to learn from. When I started, I had two top-sales agent mentors and their success inspired me to pursue my career and their advice was priceless and still serves me well even 30+ years later!” – Sandra Tooley, Owner/Director at Castor Bay Property, over 30 years in estate agency
“It’s the same advice I would give a man when starting out as an estate agent – estate agency is very cut and thrust, you have to roll with the punches. You have to be able to accept rejection and embrace the varied personalities of people you will come across on a daily basis. Whatever you decide to in life – be the best version of yourself, whether that’s working a supermarket or the CEO of a multi-national company, you need to always be kind to every body. My motto in life is to always be nice to people on your way up because you never know who you will rely on, on the way back down!” – Angi Cooney, Owner at C residential, over 30 years in estate agency
“It’s hard. The first year you are excited and have all these dreams, the next few years are a hard slog and you have to put in more hours than you expect. If you are on your own like I was it can be tough. I opened Urban Village when my kids were 1 and 3 years old. Looking back I had to have been slightly crazy but it was the only way. Even when the bank balance was zero, I never lost faith and then the fortunes turned around a period of grown begun. It does get easier and it is worth it!” – Suzanne Vincent, Director at Urban Village Homes, 30 years in estate agency
“Go for it! Being a woman doesn’t hold you back. It can be very rewarding working in an interesting industry meeting lots of people, helping people to change their lives, find their homes…. Stay ethical, stay smart. Stay you!” – Helen Duncan, Director of Property Divas, established 15-years ago
6. What do you think is the biggest issue facing women today?
“I think the biggest issue facing women today in the developed world and from my direct experience is the choice surrounding having children and the support/childcare available once you wish to return to the workplace.” – Maria Morgan, Owner of Platinum Properties, over 20 years in estate agency
“Childcare, kids being off school sick, Covid home-schooling (never again!) feeling guilty of ‘missing out’ when your babies are little and resenting paying someone else to enjoy them. Personally I loathed the playground, baby groups and coffee chats – they would last all days and you’d end up discussing how little sleep you were getting, what size nappies you were using; my kids need me much more at the age they are now then when they were little and playing in ball-pits!” – Suzanne Vincent, Director at Urban Village Homes, 30 years in estate agency
“Two things; one is safety. Safety going about their careers, safety running through a park, safety meeting a stranger to view a property. We have to factor all of these into our working day and lives and it shouldn’t be so. Two is a lack of structure. There is not enough structure in order to allow women to go away, have children and then return to resume their careers; whether this be because of unaffordable childcare or inflexible working structures.” – Helen Duncan, Director of Property Divas, established 15-years ago
“I think the same issues whether you are male or female – I don’t believe it to be a gender issue, but juggling everything and fear of failing.” – Katie Griffin, Owner of Sawdye & Harris, almost 30 years in the industry
“Managing life in general whilst continuing in a profession. If you are a women who wants a family you will, whether you want to or not, have to take time off to have children and manage your life and family afterwards. The hours in the day then might be a struggle for some women depending on the number of dependencies they have. As a result women may have to take a back step from their profession or business for a short time, but only until the bounce back stronger!” – Charlotte Burles Corbett, Managing Director at Parkmans, almost 20 years in estate agency
7. In your opinion, why is it important that women are in the estate agency profession?
“We humanise the process by helping people during their peak life moments and their darkest hours by displaying empathy and understanding.” – Kate Taylor, Director at Taylor & Co, over 20 years in estate agency
“In my opinion, women bring a different skill set: emotion and intuition, they are excellent at the ‘soft sale’ approach. They can be relatable, sympathetic and in-tune with both buyers and sellers, which can give them an advantage in negotiation.” – Sandra Tooley, Owner/Director at Castor Bay Property, over 30 years in estate agency
“Women offer compassion in the sector, they generally have a real understanding of the home and the running of the home which allows them to consider the pressures on a family and can tend to ensure that the individual needs are met to ensure a happy customer from the very start of the transaction, through to completion of the sale/purchase.” – Charlotte Burles Corbett, Managing Director at Parkmans, almost 20 years in estate agency
“From my personal experience, the perception seems to be that a successful female estate agent must be tough and committed. To compete in a predominately male industry with the stereotypical image that goes with an estate agent; pin striped suit, tight trousers, shiny shoes, slicked hair… women can be welcome change to that stereotype. Of course most male estate agents are not like that, I have some great colleagues! Estate agency is moving forward and women are leading the way. At Urban Village we are a team of six women and one man, which was completely unintentional and we have incredible 5-star reviews, which highlight excellent communication and non-typical approach. I am very proud of my team and enjoy regular coaching to encourage their success.” – Suzanne Vincent, Director at Urban Village Homes, 30 years in estate agency
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