This year to commemorate International Women’s Day we spoke with some of the women in power here at Nicol & Co. We wanted to hear their experiences as women in management, and get their perspectives on women in estate agency, female role models, and challenging discriminatory behaviour.
Is it important to have women in leadership positions? Why?
Coral, Droitwich Sales Manager: I think it’s nice to see more women in leadership roles. Women are very organised and process driven, and communicate well. Without being stereotypical I also think we can bring more of an emotional viewpoint to things as well.
Erica, Malvern Sales Manager: Definitely. Men and women can bring different things to the table and can compliment each other. A team of all men – or even all women – would lose out on aspects that the other gender can bring in. It needs to be a balance. It is harder for women and if there are women coming in from the bottom who see women at the top then that’s a good indication it’s possible for them to get there – not just the men.
Molly, Client Relationship Centre Team Leader: It’s definitely important. Having women staff provides a sense of comfort when you’re coming into the company, it shows it values women & has respect for them.
Georgie, New Homes Sales Manager: Having a mix is really important. Sometimes people find it easier to talk to women, so I think it’s really important to represent both genders for a smooth running process. For employees, it offers motivation & reassurance that you can grow and develop in the company. It’s really encouraging for someone who has just joined to see future possibilities.
Have you had any female role models?
Coral: When I first started out [at a previous company] Erica was my role model because she was our branch manager. She was the first real example of a strong woman in a leadership role that I’d seen.
Our previous Lettings Director was also the only female Director in the company and she was a powerhouse. To me at a young age it was quite inspirational to see these strong women in these positions.
Erica: The very first estate agency I worked for was owned by a woman. The owner – Louise Price – was a massive role model to me, she was quite an inspiration just with how she did business and her attitude – how confident and positive she was.
Molly: The women in my own family; they’re very strong, powerful and independent. They know what they want in life. When I look up to my parents, or aunties, or grandparents and what they’ve achieved – I think that’s what I want to be when I get to that age.
Georgie: Danielle, my manager when I worked for an estate agency in Manchester. She was so brilliant, really strong, and all of the other managers or directors were male. She was very good at what she did but also very fair, and she stood up for what was right.
When I encountered men who didn’t believe I could do the job properly, she showed me how to spin it round and show whether you’re male or female you can deliver the same service.
Have you had to challenge any gender-biased behaviour?
Coral: You get called ‘love’ a lot, and there’s some comments where people make it quite clear you’re a woman. It tends to be with the much older crowd. If we went out on an appointment with a male colleague they would always address him with their questions. Some people gravitate towards the males, but I think things are very different now.
Erica: Fortunately I haven’t had that issue in the workplace, but have experienced it with customers. You will get both men & women that look at you as if to say ‘do you know what you’re talking about?’. One appointment comes to mind and it was actually a women. I got to the front door and she looked me up and down and said ‘you’re not what I was expecting’, which I think was a combination of my age and gender.
By the end of the appointment I’d managed to win her over. I love moments like that where you can change somebody’s preconceptions.
Molly: Definitely, most recently since changing our viewing process. Some clients I feel are a lot more challenging when speaking to me, and it comes across as if they’re thinking ‘you’re just a young girl’. So I feel like they’re speaking down to me, and that I don’t know or understand the process as they do.
However I find when they’re put through to someone else who’s male, they’re fine. A male speaking to a male there’s no issue; but when they speak to the women it feels we’re very much looked down on.
Georgie: I had one situation at a previous agency. I’d turned up to do a valuation and the vendor had thought I was too young, and it was clear it was also because I was female. He wanted to call the office & have a male Director conduct the appointment.
I ended up conducting the valuation and we won the instruction, but that definitely knocks your confidence. It can be nerve wracking turning up to a valuation regardless, so challenging those attitudes is important.
How have things changed since you began your career?
Coral: It used to be less common for me to see women in power. In my previous company anyone that had any control was male & a lot of the branch managers were also men. I’ve seen more women in the industry now, years ago it was very much a man’s world in sales & leadership roles.
I think things have changed and for the last few years gender discrimination hasn’t been something I’ve really been aware of. You do get the odd case, but generally it’s not an issue we face every day now at work.
Erica: In the past it was potentially male dominated, but in my experience there’s quite a lot of women in estate agency. Though there are more men at the top than women. When I first joined it was expected that men were at the top almost, but it’s important to keep it equal. Some people look at equal rights as get the women in and get the men out, which I disagree with, but there’s definitely more visibility now.
Molly: I think a lot of people are very respectful to women nowadays but you do get the odd few people who don’t have that respect. It can be five or ten minutes into a call where they realise ‘okay, she knows what she’s talking about’. Then they display this level of respect, but brush it aside and make it a joke.
I’ve heard companies were more male dominated before in certain roles. For example, males used to be known more as valuers and females as negotiators, and now I think that’s been flipped on its head.
Georgie: I haven’t noticed massivechanges but it varies from agent to agent. I worked for one of the big corporate estate agents and there wasn’t a huge amount of progression. Each office had an all-male team of directors. Whereas the way we work all of the women in management have a really strong influence.
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