Shattering the Glass Ceiling: How Coldwell Banker is Combating the Female Leadership Gap in Real Estate

The Coldwell Banker Examining Women and Leadership Survey found that 34 percent of Americans working in female-dominated industries agree that women face a “glass ceiling,” making it more difficult for them to reach executive or senior-level positions.

This is a contributed post by Zoe Horneck, vice president of product marketing & communications for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

We kicked off 2018 with a commitment to address the upward mobility challenge female agents face in the real estate industry. According to the NAR 2017 Member Profile Report, women account for 67 percent of all real estate agents, yet only 46 percent of non-selling broker-owners are women.

Armed with that information, we challenged ourselves and our network to accelerate the real estate industry’s progress in narrowing the female leadership gap. We encouraged everyone to have open conversations, to create opportunities for women to lead and to develop a plan of action to combat this issue.

In 2019, we’re taking this a step further.

We started by gathering as much information about the female leadership gap as we could. It turns out that this gap isn’t just a problem in real estate, but it touches other female-dominated industries such as healthcare and education as well. The Coldwell Banker Examining Women and Leadership Survey found that 34 percent of Americans, both men and women, working in female-dominated industries agree that women face a “glass ceiling,” making it more difficult for them to reach executive or senior-level positions.

Using the information gathered from this survey, Coldwell Banker is investigating the causes of the gender leadership gap in our industry and is working to demolish the glass ceiling. In doing so, we’re redefining what leadership looks like in the real estate industry. Here’s how:

Starting Conversations: The Women in Leadership Series

We are giving a voice to the women leaders in the Coldwell Banker network through our Women in Leadership Series which started as a series of monthly calls and blog posts and will soon add a podcast. We’re providing female trailblazers with a platform to share their success stories and empower others to do the same.

What does female leadership look like? As Leesa Harper Rispoli explained on a Women in Leadership call, it’s challenging the “Good Ole Boys Club” and championing women who aspire to top leadership positions. It’s the determination to be a full-time mom and a successful businesswoman, according to Kate Rossi. For Sheri Arnold, it’s about celebrating other women’s accomplishments and helping them to succeed in any endeavor they choose.

If you’re planning to attend this year’s Gen Blue, be sure to stop by our Women in Leadership session on Tuesday, March 19 to hear directly from top leaders in residential and commercial real estate on why empowering women is so critical for our success in the business of real estate.

Building a Community: Coldwell Banker Women in Leadership Month

As a follow up to our survey, the Coldwell Banker Women in Leadership Month will take place in May and will celebrate women-owned companies and encourage more women to become leaders within their organizations. Throughout the month, we’ll publish educational content designed to address the issues we’ve identified head on. We’ll be offering tips, best practices, how-tos and more.

Our goal is to support female-owned brokerages and females within Coldwell Banker that want new opportunities within the brand.

Fostering Connections: Training and networking opportunities

Open dialogue about women as leaders in the workplace, mentorship and training, combined with opportunities to grow and lead, are critical to empowering women in all industries. However, among all employed U.S. adults, 40 percent say their company does not offer formal leadership training programs or sessions.

Coldwell Banker is supporting current and aspiring women leaders by providing management training, online courses and in-person networking opportunities at events including our annual Leadership Summit and Gen Blue® conference.

Our mission

Women in real estate do not always feel empowered or supported, and the Coldwell Banker Women in Leadership initiative aims to change that. Our mission is to ensure that no woman within the Coldwell Banker network ever experiences a glass ceiling. We’re taking direct aim at the leadership gap, we want all woman in real estate to feel unstoppable.

To learn more about the Coldwell Banker Women in Leadership initiative and our goal of ensuring a path to ownership and leadership for the women who want it, visit

Senior Manager, Public Relations & Giving for Coldwell Banker. Grew up in Sarasota and attended college at Western Carolina University. Athena wanted to wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep so headed to Madison Avenue to start her marketing career. She has been with this awesome brand for more than 15 years and can be found generating buzz about CB in every way possible. Athena helps to grow the brand’s position as the most storied real estate company within the industry and has led many high-profile endeavors; she was at the forefront of the brand’s pioneering smart home campaign, raised $6 million in two years to build 130 Habitat for Humanity homes, and led the Homes for Dogs program in partnership with that resulted in tens-of-thousands of dogs finding their furever home. She currently leads the CB Supports St. Jude program, which encourages the Coldwell Banker network’s 96,000+ real estate agents to make donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for every real estate transaction they represent. In her spare time, you can find her either digging up a new area in her yard for another flower bed or planning her next travel adventure. She's the proud mom of three cats Jolene, Ziggy and Lucy.

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