Approximately how many commercial real estate agents are women?

  • 1-in-10. (34%, 29 Votes)
  • 1 in 50. (30%, 26 Votes)
  • 1 in 25. (24%, 21 Votes)
  • Half. (12%, 10 Votes)
  • None. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 86

Women are seldom seen in the commercial real estate (CRE) profession.

For example, a quick glance through 2021’s CoStar Power Broker Award winners in Los Angeles shows one woman included in the list of 16 top sale brokers. Two women are included in the list of top 15 office leasing brokers and three women are included in the list of top 15 retail leasing brokers.

In total, roughly 36% of commercial real estate professionals are women, with 9% of C-level positions at CRE firms held by women, according to GlobeSt.

This lack of gender diversity is mostly unique to CRE. Consider the escrow industry, which is known for employing slightly more women than men. Residential real estate is also more balanced in terms of gender than commercial real estate.

So, why are women missing from the CRE space?

It comes down to culture and opportunity.

Hire and work with a diverse workforce

When seeking to serve a diverse community of clients and combat implicit bias against women in CRE, the best thing a hiring broker can do is employ and work with a diverse community of agents and other professionals.

For example, when advertising for an available position, employers may include an Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) statement. The EOE statement is a recognition that bias often happens during the employment process, but the employer’s EOE is a step toward countering that bias by promoting a diverse applicant pool.

The EOE statement includes the employing broker’s commitment to hiring a diverse and inclusive workforce. For example: XYZ Brokerage is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

No longer than a brief paragraph, EOE statements make it clear that the employer wishes to employ a workforce representative of the full range of society. The broker may wish to elaborate to show their earnest wish to employ a diverse workforce, outlining their willingness to provide reasonable accommodations, or even highlighting who they are as a company culture.

For example: XYZ Brokerage seeks qualified applicants from all backgrounds and we encourage diverse applicants to apply, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people and veterans.

The gender pay gap in real estate

Other steps a broker may take to ensure they are not being unintentionally biased in their employment practices include:

  • basing agent-broker fee-splits on identifiable factors, such as transaction volume or years of experience, upholding the equal pay for equal work standard;
  • responding promptly and thoroughly to any complaints of discrimination from agents or clients; and
  • making reasonable accommodations in the workplace to ensure protected groups are not excluded from employment, such as allowing time off for religious holidays and making adjustments for employees with disabilities.

Consider a broker with 15 or more agents and broker associates working for them as listed by the broker with the Department of Real Estate (DRE). They are all employees, whether the broker employs them under a withholding employment agreement or an independent contractor employment agreement. Gig workers or not, they are employees, and need to be treated as such.

Brokers typically negotiate fee sharing arrangements which call for the use of an independent contractor (IC) agreement to document their employment of agents. [See RPI Form 506]

Alternatively, brokers may choose other pay and tax withholding arrangements documented by an employee agreement form. [See RPI Form 505]

An IC agreement, in contrast with an employee agreement form, is used to avoid withholding and employer contributions by real estate brokers. [See RPI Form 506 §2.13]

Either way, the agent is subject to supervision by their broker since employing brokers are mandated to actively manage their brokerage business. This DRE mandated supervision cannot be contracted away or eliminated by use of an IC agreement. At all times, the employing broker is on the hook for their agent’s handling of listings and negotiating of sales, leases and mortgages.

Further, brokers with 15 or more agents or broker-associates need to post the EEO is Law poster, which summarizes EEO law and directs employees how to make a formal complaint, in a conspicuous location in the office. [42 United States Code §2000e-10 (a)]

Employing brokers with fewer than 15 agents or broker-associates are not required to display the EEO is Law poster, but all brokers are required to follow the equal pay for equal work standard. [29 Code of Federal Regulations §1620 et seq.]

Related article:

When you can expect to access the extra CE required to renew your California real estate license

The gender pay gap, which sees women systemically earn less money doing the same job as men, is mainly a product of implicit bias on behalf of employers — and also clients, in the case of real estate. It’s implicit because employing brokers and clients don’t usually intend to pay female workers less than male workers, but their hidden expectations, assumptions and attitudes cause women to generally receive less pay than men.

Women employed as full-time real estate brokers or sales agents earn on average 70 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same full-time employment, at the national level. On average, that’s a difference of:

For CRE specifically, women earn 10% lower salaries and earn 56% lower bonus amounts than men, according to GlobeSt.

Beyond hiring a diverse workforce and seeking out a diverse group of professionals to work with, ensuring equal pay and equal access to employment are crucial to rooting out bias against half of the workforce — women.

Want to learn more about combatting implicit bias in real estate? Sign up to be notified when RPI’s new Implicit Bias course becomes available! This component is a new requirement for renewing California real estate licenses expiring beginning January 1, 2023.

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