If, as an industry leader, you only care about female agents’ production, and not their safety, think about what that makes you. We already know who you are.
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In a beautifully written post two weeks ago, Valerie Garcia asked the question, “Is this who we R?” It’s sad to know too many people have answered “yes” with their actions.
When you promote, embrace, excuse or ignore men in our industry who have harassed women in any way, your statements are no longer necessary. We believe what you’ve shown us. Women have heard “We take this very seriously” so many times it has lost all meaning. It didn’t really have any teeth to begin with, did it? Which is why it was so easy to say.
We’re on our own
According to NAR, 66 percent of real estate agents are women. However, the way real estate is structured, the majority of agents are independent contractors, which means they aren’t subject to the same Title IX (the landmark gender equity legislation of 1972) protections in the workplace that would protect them against sexual harassment and discrimination. We are on our own.
What does a snapshot of this look like? Here are a few stories that have been shared with me over the years; all are generalized for the safety and privacy of the agents involved.
- When there was someone in your office who made suggestive comments about “how women should get leads” and you didn’t call them out, you showed us who you are.
- When you didn’t tell them if they were going to speak like that they needed to leave, you made it clear.
- When you allowed an agent in your office to verbally abuse a female agent, and you prioritized the male agent, who had been there longer, you showed us who you are.
- When you hired or retained individuals who had been accused of saying vile things about women, and you were “so excited” about their experience or following, you showed us who you are.
- When you let these individuals influence the direction of a team, brokerage or company, you showed us we’re not safe.
- When we told you we didn’t feel safe going to a house alone, or door knocking, and you responded by telling us we just didn’t care enough about being successful, you showed us who you are.
You would rather not deal with the reality of being a female real estate agent in an unsafe world — and you have the privilege to do so.
I’ve heard and experienced multiple cases that fell in each of these categories. None of these are singular incidents.
Look at the numbers
In case anyone thinks I’m being overly dramatic or emotional, it’s interesting to think about the numbers. NAR’s recent monthly membership report showed 1,559,807 members. 66 percent are women. That’s 1,029,472 people.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says 81 percent of women will experience sexual harassment in their lifetime. That’s 833,872 members. So this issue affects half of the NAR membership, not even considering other forms of harassment against other protected classes.
I’m sure there are many other agents who feel the same way. We are not waiting for improvement in the industry. The people currently leading it aren’t interested. At every moment you’ve chosen to show us that our safety will never be as important as an old chum’s “industry experience.”
If you only care about what women can produce for your brokerages, and not our emotional and physical safety, you should think long and hard about what that makes you. We already know the answer. We believe what you’ve shown us.
Andi Blackwell partners with her husband as real estate agents at eXp Realty (and they still love each other). She’s a third-generation agent and Certified Trauma-Informed Coach who focuses on teaching classes and finding ways to improve agent and client outcomes. Connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn.