Former agent and now leading industry recruiter Nicola Broomham (pictured) says the property industry is a better sector for women to work in than when she was an estate agent ten years ago, but that it still has a long way to go.
Commenting on industry figure Claire Yates’ revelations that she was raped by a branch manager while working for a leading Home Counties agency during the 1990s, Broomham says she believes this kind of violence against female agents is no longer tolerated by staff and is now rare.
“Women still have to face bad behaviour by male colleagues from time to time within the industry,” she says.
“Part of the problem is that most estate agencies are too small to have HR departments so many staff feel they have no one to turn to if male colleagues’ banter goes too far,” she says.
Broomham says she knows of one agency where male negotiators bang on their desks every time a good looking woman walks past the window, and another where a ‘secret language’ is employed to rate female vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants who visit branches.
Property industry banter
“One thing that Clare alluded to her in video was the need to tackle over-the-top banter within property industry branches and offices,” she says. “I know of one London agency where the banter is so intense that many women who get jobs there leave within a few weeks.”
Broomham says the ‘banter’ culture needs to stop.
“We are a serious profession and we need to be taken seriously and so everyone within the industry needs to be encouraged to exhibit professional behaviour when they are at work.” As well as running her own recruitment firm, Broomham is a campaign volunteer on inclusion and diversity within the industry working with the support of both Propertymark and charity Agents Together.