GUEST VIEWPOINT: Why the Women’s Council of Realtors?

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Why the Women’s Council of Realtors?
Marianne LePore

Recently the question was asked, Why the Women’s Council? There is a wealth of professional organizations for Realtors, do we need a Women’s Council? The answer lies in the history of organized real estate, with NAR going back more than 110 years and Women’s Council, over 80 years.

The Women’s Council developed as a result of the exclusion of women from many local Realtor associations in the past. At the Annual Convention in Milwaukee in November 1938, a “Women’s Division” was formed by 37 women from nine states. While this history may seem irrelevant now, recent issues highlight the importance of an ongoing professional organization for women.

Utah Broker Kenny Parcell recently resigned as President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) after an article in The New York Times detailed accusations of sexual harassment against him by NAR staff and members. This prompted industry leaders to call for accountability and new direction.

The current President of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Chris Pelkola Lee, released the following statement:

“My Fellow Women’s Council Members,

I am addressing all our members today to acknowledge the recent headlines regarding alleged sexual harassment and workplace misconduct at NAR followed by Kenny Parcell’s resignation. These incidents are obviously highly personal to all those individually involved.

Sexual harassment, or harassment of any kind, should never be tolerated in the workplace or elsewhere. They are not tolerated within the ranks of the Women’s Council. While to be clear, these recent incidents do not directly involve the Women’s Council, most of us can likely empathize with allegations of this type of behavior. And no matter how long we have each been members of NAR and the Women’s Council, the pain and anxiety that many of us are experiencing is very real. Our next actions will define us as leaders.

Rather than participate in further conjecture or gossip and fan the flames of destruction, we have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to highlight our organization and the skills we bring to the table as one piece of a complicated solution.

Having more women in leadership can only benefit our industry, which is dominated by female practitioners. And the great news is, we are known for developing leaders! Let’s embrace our reputation and elevate the call for further inclusion of women in high-level leadership positions in our industry, on both the volunteer and the executive side of the house.

Having a wider range of viewpoints and experiences at the decision table can help overcome many of the biases we still see today. We often hear the reference of ‘having a seat at the table.’ It should be noted that while that is an important first step because it is visual, it is imperative that once at the decision table, all those present have a voice in decision making and their perspectives and experiences are given equal weight. Otherwise, it’s just optics. It should go without saying, these inclusive actions extend beyond women’s experiences and to other inclusive initiatives organizations are hopefully embracing as well.

As for women in leadership, simply stated, we need a deeper bench of women leaders. I know at the national level in the Women’s Council, our leadership has long been personally tapping our members to encourage them to continue in their leadership journeys, to continue to learn and grow and pull others along with them. After all, that’s why and how I’m here!

And we are cognizant of tapping into our talented up-and-coming leaders of all backgrounds to ensure our future leaders reflect our membership base and the communities we serve. We’ve changed campaign rules to ensure national leadership is within the grasp of more of our qualified members. It’s imperative that we all take a proactive role in expanding women’s participation in high-level leadership at every opportunity.”

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