Chris Pelkola Lee, broker/owner of simpLEE HOME®, leverages her role as national president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® to provide wisdom and guidance to real estate professionals nationwide. Through mentorship, continuous learning and her own community involvement, Lee helps women actualize their potential as business leaders in the industry and the communities they serve.
Here, Lee discusses how the Women’s Council is providing solutions for aspiring female leaders as well as how to create a more equitable workforce from the top down.
Tell us about your real estate journey.
When I first started 16-plus years ago, my mentor told me to get involved with the Women’s Council of REALTORS® if I wanted to be successful—so I did. I was asked to be more involved in the local network within leadership positions, and it was there that I met industry partners and learned the ins and outs of the business. Being national president was never close to my radar, but the roles I was encouraged to undertake gave me the courage, knowledge and experience to realize that I was prepared to give back to the organization and share what I learned.
As national president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, how are you focusing on the advancement of women in the industry?
We’ve brought an intense focus back to our mission, which means that we’re laser-focused on identifying and training up-and-coming leaders to arm them with the skills they need to be successful in business, industry leadership and life. It’s incumbent upon us to be scouting for new talent at all levels of our networks.
How can real estate professionals promote equality and diversity in the workforce?
Whether we’re hiring staff or agents, or recruiting volunteers, we need to be purposeful as to how we’re doing so. Organizations should be leveling the playing field upon entry so a better reflection of our population can participate at the highest levels to the advancement of the own organization. Achieving equity happens in very small intentional actions every day by individuals. You may not feel like you’re making a difference at the time, but if everyone is cognizant of even the small things, and taking purposeful actions, they all add up.
How is paying it forward one way to ensure equitable futures for all?
A large piece of our mission at the Women’s Council reflects our expectation that our trained leaders will extend their experience and leadership skills into service in their own communities. I’ve been appointed to several local committees by the mayor of my city precisely because of my experience. I’ve chaired conversations around a facility review committee for our local police department and have served as vice chair for a business and economic climate committee for the city. By bringing our experience and training to a wider audience, we can have an active role in fostering an inclusive and equitable future for our neighbors and neighborhoods.
What is your best advice for women aspiring to leadership positions in real estate?
We need more women in leadership across the board. And every company and organization that participates in the real estate industry plays a role in moving the needle in a positive direction, whether private, publicly traded, grassroots organized or with the opportunity to participate at a high level in the media and as conference promoters and hosts. My advice to women is raise your hand and ask to be involved. Talk to those who can help you find the next step to work toward what you’re looking to achieve.
For more information, please visit https://www.wcr.org.