Inspiration and Celebration for Women’s Equality Day
Featuring a conversation with Ivonne Azucena (Baez) Furneaux, Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Anywhere.
August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the day American women were first allowed to vote back in 1920. We’ve certainly come a long way since then. But when you look at issues like the gender pay gap, and the lack of women in corporate leadership roles, it’s clear that more change needs to happen.
Some of the progress we’ve seen is shockingly recent. For example, you’d have to be over 100 to remember a world where women couldn’t vote. But there is no doubt many of our readers were alive before 1974, when women were not legally allowed to get a line of credit on their own.
Today, we’re going to take a look at what Women’s Equality means in real estate. We’re also going to talk with Ivonne Azucena (Baez) Furneaux, Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Anywhere about how we can continue advocating for equality, increasing representation, and inspirational leaders.
Honoring Women in all Spheres of Life
Women’s Equality Day honors women’s suffrage, and equality in all spheres of society. It was originated by Bella Abszug, a Congressional Representative representing the State of New York. Her bill was designed to “issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of American were first given the right to vote.”
Extraordinary living, a lifestyle blog from Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty recently published Advice from Real Estate Professionals in honor of the day. Though we highly recommend reading the entire feature, here are a couple quotes you may find interesting.
“Another woman doing what you’re doing is not your competition. She is your sister. Support her. Encourage. her.” Linda Conforti @lindaconfortihomes
“Be authentic, be kind, be strong. This is a cooperative business that runs best when all the parties are operating at this level.” Alexandra Haralambakis @alexharalambakis
Ways to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day
The Vantage Circle Blog recently posted an enlightening article, 8 Ways to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day. It highlights some mindful ways to commemorate and honor all those women who came before us, offering thought starters on how to pay it forward to the next generation. Ideas include:
Find someone to sponsor, and identify the right sponsor for you
We often hear that in order to succeed in business you should get a mentor. But research shows that women are “over-mentored” and “under-sponsored.” In order to advance in their careers, women need more sponsorship, not more mentorship. What is a sponsor? A sponsor doesn’t just provide advice-they advocate for you when you aren’t in the room. They recommend you for a project or a promotion.
Women who are sponsored are far more likely to be promoted, have increased job satisfaction and are even more likely to return to work after having a baby! We encourage you to learn more about what it means to be a sponsor for someone and identify the right sponsor for you.
Aid a Cause
Ideally, the cause will be women-focused, and better yet, done as a team. Find some friends and co-worders and figure out a project you can work on together to honor Women’s Equality Day, such as:
- Visit schools to hold a reading session on women trailblazers, or gender studies
- Organize a charity session for homeless women
- Spearhead a lunch-and-learn session with some women leaders in your area
Or You Can Simply Read a Book
“Nothing beats reading some great feminist authors on Women’s Equality Day to help everyone reset their patriarchal worldview.” If you want to learn about some of the great women who paved the way, Vantage Circle has quite a reading list which includes:
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Broad Influence by Jay Newton-Small
- Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
- Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez
We Should Work to Remove Those Barriers
We recently spoke with Ivonne Azucena (Baez) Furneaux, Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Anywhere on a wide-ranging set of topics relating to Women’s Equality Day.
Q: What are some of the top priorities around gender equality at Anywhere Real Estate?
One of our top priorities related to gender equality at Anywhere Real Estate is ensuring that we have equal gender representation internally across all levels of the organization and in all areas of the business. While we have great representation in our top leadership roles, we have an opportunity to have more women in management roles and in certain parts of the business, such as technology. In our broader network, we are working to promote entrepreneurship for women through careers in real estate. Owning your own business – and your own future – is the ultimate empowerment for women, so we want to enable that dream for as many women as possible, whether as agents, brokers, or franchise owners.
Q: How can brokers and agents continue to advocate for women’s equality in their roles and communities?
Brokers and agents can advocate for women’s equality in their roles by advocating for more women in the industry, supporting them as they embark in these careers, and also by tapping into the power of woman homebuyers and sellers. Women make the majority of major purchase decisions in most households, and single women – with and without children – are a growing segment of the home buying population.
Q: The real estate industry is roughly 59% female but when you look at the percentage of women in leadership roles both as broker/ owners and corporate, that number declines significantly. How can we continue to increase female representation in leadership?
One of the things that makes real estate such an appealing career for women is the flexibility, freedom and sense of ownership it provides. We should ensure that everyone can feel that same sense of autonomy in corporate roles and other leadership positions. Our move toward remote and hybrid work options is one way to do this.
Q: What can the real estate industry do to take next steps around gender equality and equity for all?
To take the next steps toward equity and equality for all, we have to acknowledge the barriers to entry into real estate careers and entrepreneurship. There are the realities of socioeconomic barriers, parenting responsibilities and more that can make it tough for people to become agents. We should work to remove those barriers for people where we can so that anyone can enter these careers and become successful. On the client side, it’s imperative on our industry to ensure that everyone is following the tenets of fair housing and non-discrimination so that anyone, anywhere can achieve their dreams of homeownership.
Q: What can we learn from other industries making strides when it comes to women’s equality?
First, we should acknowledge that our industry is better than many others when it comes to gender equality. That said, there’s always room for improvement and we can certainly look to and learn from other industries and companies that have had success. Many companies that have had success are intentional about both having women at the helm and in being deliberate about serving women and being inclusive. Fenty brands immediately come to mind – with an unapologetic focus on women of all shapes, sizes and skin tones, and Rihanna serving as a powerful force for a new generation of female leaders.
Q: What other female leaders do you look to for inspiration or support?
The female leaders I look to for inspiration and support aren’t rich or famous – they’re the women I choose to surround myself with day in and day out. They’re the close friends I call for advice on a work project or who cheer me up when I’ve had a bad day. They’re the women who show up for me when I need them, and the ones who challenge me to achieve my goals. They’re the women I trust to keep my secrets and the ones who make me laugh so hard I cry. Those women – my friends, my family – are the greatest source of inspiration for me.
Now it’s your turn
Are you planning to recognize & celebrate Women’s Equality Day? What commitments are you going to take to inspire and support women in your community?