As one of Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30” in real estate,” Caroline Bass, an associate broker at New York City-based Citi Habitats, exemplifies success among today’s women real estate agents. Even so, she shared with us the obstacles she has faced.
“My team is made up of five women, and over the years the biggest challenge we’ve faced is that we have to prove ourselves — no matter how many accolades or how much experience we may have within the real estate industry,” Bass told us in an Mbition article published earlier this year.
Bass is not alone in that challenge. “The fact is that many women still face obstacles in seeing their ambitions come to fruition,” Debrah Lee Charatan, a real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist, wrote in a May 18 article for Entrepreneur.
Citing statistics from an Urban Land Institute survey, Charatan discussed the gender discrepancy in real estate, focusing particularly on the lack of women in leadership roles.
According to Charatan, the ULI — a multidisciplinary real estate organization with more than 37,000 members — surveyed its female members that concluded there is a shortfall of women who hold executive roles in the real estate industry.
The survey also found that although women make up roughly 25% of ULI members, they represent just 14% of CEOs, and they are more likely to lead smaller firms than larger ones.
“ULI speculates that this is likely because roadblocks in larger organizations box them out of senior roles, leading them to either start their own businesses or leave for smaller firms where less bureaucracy prevents their advancement,” Charatan wrote in “How the real estate industry can help talented women advance.”
The ULI offered the following suggestions on how real estate companies can help women in the industry succeed and move into leadership positions.
1. Accelerated learning — Give female employees responsibility and test their ability to act under pressure to allow those who might not be obvious choices the chance to prove their worth and demonstrate their skills.
2. Culture creation — Create a culture within which both men and women have the tools to succeed. “Inclusivity starts from the top, with leaders taking actions to include women as mentees and to demand the same quality from all,” Charatan wrote.
3. Talent mindset —Women in the industry said having managers who provide on-the-job coaching is more beneficial than formal female leadership programs. While they may be helpful, stand-off interventions aren’t considered as important to career growth as internal attitude and mentorship.
4. Flexibility for all — The women surveyed indicated workplace flexibility as a sign of trust by senior leadership. According to the article, the women wanted to be trusted with flexible working hours while also being measured on results. “In the survey, this goal was even more important than family leave,” Charatan wrote.
5. Mentorship — “Internal mentorship can be crucial in allowing women to hone their leadership skills,” Charatan wrote. “Organizations can also offer women the opportunity to form external networks fostering professional relationships with men and women outside their firm.”