Women!Let’s change the message. We have no control over what anyone else thinks, does, or feels, but we have absolute control over our own thoughts and actions. We have the first line of obligation to manage the objectification of women in this highly sexualized society in which we live today. If it looks like objectification, it probably is. Reject it.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terri King.
Terri is an entrepreneur, investor, writer, and mom to a teenager. She has been in the real estate industry for 17 years. Terri started her current company, Coldwell Banker King, in 2011 during the worst housing crash since the Great Depression. It is the largest woman-owned and operated Coldwell Banker franchise in the Carolinas.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?
Itwas 2005, and I needed to show a 100-acre farm I had listed to a potential buyer on a Saturday. I had only recently become a single mother to my eight-month-old niece and had no babysitting structure set up for her yet. So, I met the buyer, introduced my young assistant, stuck her in a Kelty backpack, and we hiked the property together. By the time we got back to the truck, he was wiping her nose and feeding her snacks as we discussed the offer.
Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Mytakeaway was simply that if you make no apologies, just roll with it, and be sincere in the face of less than perfect circumstances, people will often roll with it too. And that’s awesome!
What do you think makes your company stand out?
Being a woman-owned and operated real estate company that is a major player in my market is a standout in our industry right now.
Can you share a story?
From time to time, as in all small businesses, salespeople walk into our office offering their product or service. One day this dude walks in and asks to speak to “Mr. King.” I just happened to be standing there so I stuck out my hand and said, “I’m Mr. King.” The look of confusion on his face was priceless. We all laughed. He apologized and that was that.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
Ibelieve it has been the mindset of women over the years. No one has held us back as much as we have held ourselves. Historically, for a variety of reasons, we didn’t think we could or should aspire to positions of leadership. This has left a female leadership gap that has yet to be closed. I think Sheryl Sandberg’s “Broken Rung” theory is valid. And I believe in the real estate industry we are, indeed, on our way to closing this gap.
What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
People! Don’t pigeon hole kids into what they can dream of being based on their gender. Even if you think you don’t do it, you probably do, unconsciously and at least to some degree. Many of us have a long history of unconscious bias, so let’s be careful.
Mamas! Let’s raise our boys to respect and honor the women in their worlds. Their mothers are the first women with whom most men have a relationship. This is a beautiful opportunity to change male attitudes and behaviors towards women that could last a lifetime and impact our world. Take advantage of it. Be intentional and teach them well.
Women! Let’s change the message. We have no control over what anyone else thinks, does, or feels, but we have absolute control over our own thoughts and actions. We have the first line of obligation to manage the objectification of women in this highly sexualized society in which we live today. If it looks like objectification, it probably is. Reject it.
Companies! Let’s take a page from the Coldwell Banker playbook on this one. The brand just launched an initiative called the Diversity in Ownership Program, where new Coldwell Banker franchises with veteran or diverse ownership — including women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals — will not only have their franchise fee waived, but they will also receive financial incentives of at least $25,000 to help them grow their business and build diverse teams. It is programs like these and a new collective consciousness that can help us close the gap.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Women don’t have the expansive network of their male counterparts typically. Overwhelmingly, it is men who hold positions of influence with the ability to open doors. Of course, many doors have been opened for women by men. But, it’s human nature to gravitate toward people who look like yourself. So when venture capital, leadership positions, and networking opportunities are already controlled by male decision-makers, it can lead to even more men being favored to be the business leaders of tomorrow.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry?
Iam concerned about the level of competency and professionalism in our industry today. In this information age, it is increasingly more important that real estate professionals have expert knowledge of their local market. That’s why I think it is so important that agents strengthen their skills when it comes to customer service, local market knowledge, financing knowledge and more. Agents really need to be experts in every aspect of a real estate transaction in order to prove their value.
If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Iwould like to see a more rigorous licensing requirement for entry into our industry. When it requires more credit hours to become a cosmetologist to do hair than to advise the public on what is, for most, their largest investment, something is out of line. I would like to see REALTORS® take a more unified stance on the expectations of our professional standards industry-wide. Our code of ethics is a very good credo, and I support it. If we drew harder lines on living by it, we would make greater strides towards differentiating ourselves as REALTORS® and our commitment to excellence in our profession. I would like to see standards around errors and omissions policies reformed to allow agents to hold the policy individually, naming the brokerage as a secondary. Realignment of the policyholder would open the agent to more of the autonomy they are seeking, while reducing liability to the broker. That may be a can of worms but it may also be appropriate in the future.
How can our readers follow you online?