It quickly becomes clear in any discussion with Holly Longmuir that she is a passionate advocate for equality in the workforce, and her business is evidence of her commitment. Holly leads a team of twenty eight people over three locations on the Mornington Peninsula and seventy five percent of her team are women. Holly explains;
“Historically, women in real estate were seen as administrators. Men owned the business, but mostly left the day to day operations to women. Men were typically strong-willed, tenacious sales people. I have these same personality traits, but I never understood the “male vs female” stereotype, so I have never felt constrained by anyone’s expectations of how I should run my business. Instead, I believe simply that the best people rise to the top and that hard work equals reward. We employ and promote people based on one key criteria; their alignment with our company values. Years in the business, gender or age are just not a factor”.
In Holly’s experience, at a corporate level, adapting to women in leadership roles has been a learning curve for many men. Of course, that’s not unique to the real estate industry. But she is positive about progress saying “I truly believe that today there is respect and support for what women are doing and achieving. For women seeking to build a career in real estate I have one simple message; don’t act like a man, be true to yourself. Be firm but fair”.
Holly describes her key strengths as a business woman as technology, process, structure and culture. Her skill in these areas remain the pillars for her success. “My approach has always been to play to my strengths. I am forthright, not aggressive; there’s a huge difference. I am clear in my business strategy. The women who know me and work with me understand this and thrive in this environment. Men who join my company do so for the same reasons.”
“Our business is constantly evolving. We have to be agile and responsive to changing market conditions, new technology and the expectations of our clients. I believe in a management style called ‘radical candour’. Our team meets regularly to discuss all aspects of our business. We have a ‘no rubbish’ approach and aggression or narcissism simply is not tolerated. This creates a free space for people to contribute to business growth, to share their ideas, and also challenge behaviours that are not aligned with our core values. What I learn from my team is phenomenal. When you listen, you learn and women are a strong guiding force in our company”.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Holly’s role is the opportunity it gives her to nurture talented women and men and create opportunities, for anyone with the passion, talent and drive to succeed. In short, to give everyone an equal voice. For Holly the foundation for equality in the workplace is mutual respect. “Everyone’s contribution is valuable and valued. Hierarchy has no relevance in our workplace although we do expect people to take responsibility for their part in ‘our’ play”.
For Holly, her proudest achievement is her team “I am proud that we have created a culture that draws people to us. As Kevin Costner said In Field of Dreams - build it, they will come!”