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It seems that every day there is an ‘international’ day for this and that- some are, in my opinion, a little patronising and maybe even ridiculous- but many are really important to highlight issues that need to be brought into the spotlight of debate and social conscience. One of the latter types is happening this weekend with ‘International Women’s Day’. This day has been observed globally since the early 1990’s, but IWD can trace its roots back to the 1908 women’s march through New York City that demanded voting rights, and better working hours and pay- With this in mind, here at Hunters, we took the opportunity to audit our staffing profiles to check we were getting it right… and guess what.. we are confident that we are.

Throughout our 200+ branches we have over 680 fully accredited staff, over 60% of these are women; we have 28 women franchise directors- our first franchised branch (2006) was opened by Rebecca Try and is still going from strength to strength today, with many of our other female franchisees running more than one branch. Our own CEO, Glynis Frew, is one of only a handful of women CEOs in charge of a PLC, (figures released last year for the ‘Independent’ newspaper showed that just six of the FTSE 100 CEOs are women). Earlier this week, Glynis had this to say about the findings;

“It is great to see industry female representation continue to grow and we’re proud that Hunters, along with many others in property, have been encouraging it for some time now. More and more women entering the industry can only be a good thing, but we must not forget that the value of the contribution to our fantastic industry is not gender-dependent”. The full article can be found here.

What is interesting to me, is that we don’t proactively look for maintaining or creating a gender balance, it just seems to happen here organically- our company ethos, training academy, and the opportunities available to our staff are a perfect match for all our candidates and employees- regardless of their gender, not in spite of it! These issues of equality are still hot on political agendas and need a major mind shift to bring positive change, but at least this date creates a focal point in the year for us all to step back and take a look at the movement of women’s rights and promote recognition of the role women play in society.

There have also been some interesting developments concerning estate agents that have letting portfolios; last month, two separate legal battles were successful in getting out of court settlements due to being indirectly discriminated against; these legal victories will pave the way for more landlords and letting agents to face hefty fines if they are found to be guilty of discrimination. This was directly the consequence the vetting process that the judges ruled showed prejudice against prospective tenants on grounds of them being in receipt of state benefits.

This is by no means a new issue, way back in April 2019 MPs were demanding letting agents and landlords to abandon the practice of stating ‘No DSS’. Even further back in 2017, the national housing charity ‘Shelter’  said the ‘No DSS’ clauses in property adverts contravenes equality laws because of the negative effect this has on predominantly women and people with disabilities- of course, it is entirely up to the landlord who they wish to rent their property to- and agents and landlords will have their own criteria and ethics- whether this push for change in advertisement wording is right or wrong, I feel it is an issue to keep an eye on as the debate is only really just gaining traction.

In other news, I followed the story in the national media with interest about the £18M Purplebricks received in fees in 2019 for homes that did not sell. This was announced not long after I wrote about online only and hybrid estate agencies last month. A quote given to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper by Purplebricks acknowledged that amount was received for unsuccessful property sales through their portal but did point out that their customers do understand the upfront fee model and how it means they can sell their property for less; Purplebricks supported their business model by further pointing out that they saved their successful (SSTC) customers over £150M in fees they would have paid to traditional estate agents over the same time period- I get that, but I wonder how much of a comfort that was to the homeowners that lost their share of the £18M?..

If you would like to know more about any of the events or issues mentioned above, please do get in touch with me- I’m always happy to talk Hunters.

Andy