Women’s History Month asks us to consider our own fearless example for future female leaders

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Recently, a NextHome broker/owner shared an interaction with her daughter that sums up the importance of Women’s History Month. 

“What motivates me? It’s my daughter,” said Emily Daniel, owner of NextHome Premier Realty. “When I was second-guessing my ability to open my brokerage, Isla looked at me and said ‘mom, you can do hard things.’ I knew what had to be done, and I am so thankful for every moment since.”

Centuries of sleepless nights, mustered courage, and just plain getting it done have clawed back against those same centuries of systemic barriers and second guessing ourselves. As women, we know that we can do hard things. And yet, there is still this push and pull between self-doubt and the fearlessness our daughters see in us. 

The impacts of this push and pull are especially applicable to the real estate industry, where 65 percent of sales associates are female, while only 20 percent of those in real estate’s corporate leadership roles are women (Medium & Authority Magazine). While many women find great fulfillment embracing roles as sales associates, data suggests there is a large gap between the number of female associates and female owners. The California Association of REALTORS® discovered in 2017 that out of their top 100 brokerages by volume, only 16 were run by women. What are the barriers to women who want to lead, but second guess themselves?

Female leadership statistics might even be generous, considering the toll two years of pandemic have taken on women’s employment. As childcare support systems evaporated and workplace dynamics pivoted, “just getting it done” for women became a much heavier lift. Factors that pushed women out of the workforce are as diverse as the women themselves. But the end result is the same: today only 57 percent of women are participating in the workforce, the lowest rate since 1988. 

Research has shown that companies are 15 percent more likely to experience above-average financial performance when gender representation is prioritized (McKinsey and Co. Insights). When gender and ethnic diversity are combined, that number goes up to 25 percent. In the UK, the highest performance in McKinsey’s data set was associated with senior-executive teams exhibiting the greatest gender diversity.

That’s the broad industry overview. Focusing on NextHome, here’s what I know as a woman in corporate leadership: women’s voices matter. 

Six out of NextHome Inc.’s eight departments are led by women. Throughout more than two years of pandemic, every woman in a managerial role remained with NextHome. There was no corporate downsizing. Of more than 575 NextHome franchises nationwide, 54 percent are owned by women. 

I wish I could give you more reasons why female representation at NextHome looks like this. In a nutshell, women just happened to be the more qualified and capable to take on these roles. NextHome’s diversity and strength exist because of the caliber of humans NextHome employs. 

We asked a few of these high-caliber women what it is like being a woman in a leadership role:

“In order to be a leader, you must be respected. In order to be respected, you must work hard. In order to be respected as a female leader, you need to work twice as hard,” said Taylor Cannon, Director of Operations, NextHome, Inc. 

“Being a woman in a leadership role is quite empowering in many ways, especially for me knowing that your knowledge and resourcefulness will help to grow other individuals toward their success,” said Sheri Mendoza, Contract Administration Manager. “ This is a huge accomplishment for me, especially as a woman!”

 “Growing up in Bulgaria, my father never missed an International Women’s Day celebration,” said Petya Manning, Director of Marketing for NextHome, Inc. “I have fond memories of him gifting me flowers even when I was too young to understand the importance of this special day. Over the years, this day has morphed into something else entirely. Viewing it from the perspective of a department head, with four talented women on my in-house team and several female freelancers I rely on extensively, I feel gratitude. It’s an honor to see these ladies grow and change over the years. And I’m right here growing alongside them and cheering them on with a full heart. So my career advice this Women’s History Month would be to find an organization where you feel heard, challenged, and inspired – and to never settle for less.” 

“I’m blessed to have both my mother and grandmother here to witness me achieve Broker/Owner status with NextHome,” said Stacy Leonidas, owner of NextHome Supreme Realty. “My Grandmother is 94, and so proud. It’s incredible to think that when she was growing up, it would have been an impossibility for her to do this. My children (3 boys, 1 girl) and husband motivate and support me every day. I want all my children to know success in business is not determined by gender but hard work and the ability to earn the respect of all your peers! I hope to motivate other women to take a chance and go for it in homeownership and business ownership.”

“I am driven to leave a legacy for my kids and my granddaughters,” said Wanda Ott, owner of NextHome TwoFourFive. “Not necessarily money or material things but of success, kindness, and a relationship with God. Partnering with my daughter in our real estate business has been one of the absolute highlights of my career. I’m thankful for all of the successful women who have gone before me and I’m proud to be one of the first women business owners in my family tree.”

For me, as a mother of two strong daughters, Women’s History Month represents more than motherhood or ways to navigate the workplace. The responsibility of raising children is one of the most important roles anyone will ever embark on, man or woman. I admire women who stay home and raise their children, but that was not a gift I was blessed with. 

Women make more sacrifices than men. This is not a competitive statement but a fact. We sacrifice our bodies, our time, our goals, and our financial opportunities. Even then, we somehow manage to balance it all and that is what Women’s History Month represents for me. It’s about the sacrifices that women have made throughout history to ensure the next generation of women have, not only a clearer path, but a path at all. 

My daughters could not be more different than the sun and the moon. Yet both know that in order to achieve the best version of themselves, they must learn from and lean on each other, maintain their faith, and always give 110 percent. Nothing in this world is free or given and what is earned and achieved is only as good as the effort they put into it. 

The mind is a funny place, and if we tell ourselves or our children that “it will be hard”, then it will. However, if we tell them “anything is possible”, then it will be done. This is why I have never told my girls there is a glass ceiling they have to break through or that women have it harder than men. I know plenty of men who have struggled the same or more than some women. I am here to make sure that whatever goal or idea they strive for, we have a plan, a path, and process to see it through. My responsibility as their mother and as a leader is to simply support them and sit back and watch them struggle and fail, then pursue and succeed. It is really that simple; not easy, but possible in the seemingly impossible.  

It is my hope that during future Women’s History Months, our daughters will look back at us and see the road we paved as they wonder what’s possible for them. Let’s give them something to aspire to. 

Happy Women’s History Month

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