“Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman…”
This age-old saying is one that’s now likely to cause understandable consternation.
For whilst it was once well intended and designed to acknowledge that ‘successful men’ are only such because of the support they receive from their spouse, it is nonetheless condescending in its assumption that men are the ‘successes’ in a work sense and women ‘support’ them from a position of domestic servitude.
It’s straight out of the ‘How To Be a Good Wife’ handbook of the 1950’s and has no place in the 21st century – not that it ever did at all.
In the context of the estate agency industry (and as I’m quoting old sayings) let’s instead turn to one that I rather prefer to illustrate the essence of this piece…
“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman”
The late, great Margaret Thatcher said this and she should know because she was, after all a woman and a woman, no matter where your political allegiances lie, that got things done for better or for worse, one way or the other.
And so it is that in my 25 year property career it has been my experience that the best estate agents are women.
The occasional fella sneaks into my list of greats but predominantly the trophies that I gave out, the league tables that were topped and the accolades I bestowed were on female members of the teams that I have been responsible for.
Lisa Butcher, Jackie Jones, Natalie Loizou, Jo McNeilly, Joanne Quirk, Tracy Empson, Kath Taylor, Louise Maher, Lisa Grimwood, Lauren Rutherford, Elle Osborne, Claire Readings, Hannah Turner, Stacey Warwick… take a bow. You are just some that stand out to me as best in class.
Why are women the best negs, the best listers, the best sales progressors and the best branch managers?
I am not an expert on female psychology, my wife and daughters will certainly attest to that, and so I can only guess at why – but here’s a few suggestions:
- Women are more diligent than men
- Women are more conscientious
- Women are better organised
- Women have less ego
- But women also care more about others and their welfare – women have more empathy
This article is not some attempt at amateur gender psychology as ‘why’ they are better at the job is not really my point.
It’s simply just so and that’s that.
Proportionally, the best in our industry that I have seen are not blokes and in fact I’d go further such is that the majority of the issues I’ve had to deal with around unreliable staff, erratic performance, questionable social habits and general aggro – have involved men.
- Most likely to not turn up to work due to a hangover? Men
- Most likely to be fired for drug use? Men
- Most likely to cause upset to customers through unreliability, false promises or rudeness? Men
- Most likely to crash a company car into a ditch? Men
Your experiences may be different of course.
Your professional journey perhaps littered with male dominated anecdotes of superiority – maybe.
But I can only tell it how it is from a 25-year life in the property business and in settings that range from a five branch Essex firm to a venture backed online agency and across a good few hundred team members hired along the way.
But the point of this story is this…
Why do major estate agency companies not promote/hire women to the most senior levels within their businesses?
Why is our industry led by men?
It seems so out of whack that the property sector is dominated in performance terms by penises, so to speak.
So I ask again, ‘what is wrong with women’?
And I mean this from the seeming perspective of the industry’s chairmen (yes, men) and boards whom obviously think there is something of the inadequate about the fairer sex or else why are there not more female CEOs, managing directors and board members at the helm of our big corporate organisations?
Of the CEOs that run the top 100 biggest companies in the UK across all industries just 6 are women. That’s bad enough.
But within the UK’s largest estate agency firms there’s just one female CEO.
Glynis Frew is on her own at the top and is also the only female board director at Hunters.
No other major estate agency brand has currently hired or promoted a woman leader, yet the last time I looked almost exactly half the British population were women.
The top tier of the property industry can certainly therefore be described as predominantly male and pale.
And I wonder whether the Alison Platt experiment in particular may have encouraged property bosses to see her ousting as being a symptom of chromosomes rather than one of apparent ability and that they are now ‘once bitten twice shy’ where hiring a senior female is concerned?
Masculinity seems hard-wired into business. Does this stem from school ties?
That is to say, not connections made whilst in academia but actual ties as in collars and ties.
In the same way that Eton and Harrow do not permit girls, boardroom doors seem locked to them too.
And isn’t it interesting where the business I refer to above is concerned in that, arguably, actual responsibility for that debacle in Countrywide’s history should land squarely at Peter Long’s feet as its Chief Signer Offerer – yet he is still in place despite the woes of that company escalating even further since Platt left.
You know, 80% of consumer purchase decisions are influenced by women, including presumably home buying and one’s choice of estate agent.
So, help me out here – half the UK population are female.
Arguably the best estate agents are women. And women are pivotal in consumer purchase decisions.
But they remain almost misogynistically non-existent where positions of ultimate responsibility, power and earnings are concerned within estate agency.
Question… Are you ok with this?
As the world is currently experiencing a period of great reflection and debate on matters of racial discrimination, we might also consider gender inequality as being an issue somewhat close to home too.
Russell Quirk founded emoov, is PropergandaPR co-founder, and a director of Keller Williams (Essex).