International Women’s Day – Through the lens of RT Edgar’s most influential women

As an agency with seven female directors across the RT Edgar Network, RT Edgar sees International Women’s Day as an important opportunity to reflect and celebrate the achievements of the women in our industry, as well as recognize the hardships they have endured and still do today.

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The theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. As such, RT Edgar is committed to igniting this conversation amongst our own and spreading awareness of this important message, with the aim of continuing to foster a sustainable future for our community.

We sat down with an inspirational group of RT Edgar women to discuss what IWD means to them, the progress made and the roadblocks they have overcome along the way, as well as highlighting important pieces of advice they have received from other female mentors of their own. 

What does IWD mean to you?

For our Operations Manager Justine Kantanis, IWD is about empowering women, recognizing how far they have come, as well as ensuring space to acknowledge how far women still have to go. Similarly, Vicki Sayers (Director) outlines the importance of celebrating women’s achievements with the purpose of inspiring young women to be whatever they want to be, and to ensure that gender doesn’t hold them back.

IWD to Sarah Case (Director) is a celebration of women around the world and what they contribute to our society – whether that be as a working woman, a stay-at-home mum, or working mum, etc. “We all play such important roles in so many different ways and this year the focus is on gender equality. I don’t have a daughter, but it is vital that we teach our son to respect women as equals and that it is so important to protect their environment for future generations.”

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women's Day?

“It is a fantastic opportunity for people to celebrate women’s achievements and be reminded of the importance of gender equality over the world,” Anabelle Feng says.

Justine Kantanis agrees that the celebration of IWD is a vital opportunity, one that sends a message to women to continue to fight for their own dignity and autonomy as the basis of all human rights, and to celebrate achievements in all areas and fields, irrespective of age.

Vicki Sayers states that is important for people to understand that whilst women today have more opportunities than they have had before, there are still women around the world and within parts of Australia who have limited access to opportunities for education and employment options. “It wasn’t that long ago that women in our own country were restricted to home duties and it is important to quash the stereotype of women at home and men at work. Many men can equally look after the needs of a family.”

What progress have you seen when it comes to women in real estate over the years?

Annabelle Feng (Director) states that she has seen more and more talented women shining and glowing on the real estate stage, which both inspires and encourages her career endeavors. 

Justine Kantanis has seen progress with acceptability from male peers, recognition, and flexibility in the sales environment, as well as overall higher-paying roles than previously attainable.

Sarah Case acknowledges that the roles have changed dramatically in our industry. “Women in real estate were usually just the admin staff or front of house, but I’m proud to say our sales team is now made up of 50% women at our Toorak office!”

What barriers have you faced in your career as a woman?

To develop a gender-equal future, it is important to reflect on the barriers women have faced and still face today.

Many of our female employees outline the difficulties surrounding balancing life and work as a new mother/a mother with young children.

Justine Kantanis tells us that barriers she has faced include, “the blind conformity. Working in advertising in the 90’s and early 2000’s, there wasn’t a lot of career progression or flexibility as a new mother.”

Sarah Case points out that she found having no female role models at the beginning of her career created a more difficult environment from which to thrive. “I have had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am today, but hard work and persistence pay off. I try to be a mentor for my female team, and for my male team members equally.”

Holly Longmuir (Managing Director: Flinders) outlines having experienced both misogyny and dominance in past professional settings as a barrier she has faced. Holly outlines the importance of conversations around how women feel, and acknowledging their experience in the world.

How does RT Edgar ensure a safe and supportive environment for their female employees?

RT Edgar’s ‘pod’ system has enabled greater flexibility for the agents, ensuring the workload can be spread and the system supports a proper home/life balance, according to Vicki Sayers. “We have a flexible workplace where the needs of our employees’ families are factored into their workday, working around schools hours and allowing for time to attend kids commitments and take time in lieu.”

Justine Kantanis outlines that our directors and management team lead by example in supporting our equal opportunity policies, including accommodating women’s external obligations, and doing the same for men to ensure gender equality. This way, both men and women can equally support their partners and families outside of the workplace.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

“Learn, listen and watch what not to do, pave your own way and do it better than everyone else.” – Sarah Case.

“Dare to dream.” – Holly Longmuir.

“You can be whatever you want to be and you don’t need a man to financially support you.” – Vicki Sayers.

“Challenge yourself and always hold yourself accountable.” – Justine Kantanis.

“Love yourself first, before you can love other people. It is important to be mentally and physically healthy, so that you can provide better service and thrive for higher goals.” – Anabelle Feng.

RT Edgar continues to celebrate the growth, support, and achievements of women, particularly in our industry and the broader community. Today is a pivotal opportunity to have these important conversations with the women in your life from which to learn and grow – with the aim of gender equality and a sustainable future for all.