Candace Adams knows what it feels like to be one of only a few women in a room. It was about 20 years at a meeting of the industry trade group Realty Alliance, a network of top real estate firms in North America. “There were about 150 people in the room and about four women, me being one of them,” Adams says.
It was a huge departure from the Tolland County-based firm she owned — majority-women — with a conference room converted to a “kid room,” where children of her agents watched movies, put together puzzles and “grew up together,” as their moms worked at desks nearby.
“I wanted to empower young moms, which I was, and be able to give them an environment where they could balance their work and personal lives”
Today, Adams leads 1,800 agents across four states as president and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, Westchester Properties and New York Properties. She says the gender split now among Realty Alliance members is closer to 50-50. It’s a power shift created in part by women leaders including Adams, who’ve coached and mentored agents coming up in the industry to build their soft skills of empathy, vulnerability, and flexibility to serve clients and support colleagues.
Striking a balance
Adams opened her first brokerage 25 years ago, which she purchased with her mentor and business partner. “I wanted to empower young moms, which I was, and be able to give them an environment where they could balance their work and personal lives,” she says.
The flexibility she gave her staff to raise their kids as they built their careers yielded top-performing agents, Adams says. Maintaining that work-family balance for her teams remains a priority. Adams still notices a hesitance among working parents to ask for time to take care of family. That’s why she proactively provides options “without them asking, because I know how hard it is for those people who are really dedicated to their jobs.”
Her advice to agents ready to move into management: “Be yourself, be confident and open-minded,” and know that you’re going to make mistakes. “Women who are true leaders have to be able to fail.”