Tag Archives: land title

Refashioning the Pink Collar

It’s on so many of our hiring documents now that we hardly think about it: “This employer does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Equal employment has only been law for fifty-odd years. In that time, women have continued to make strides in a business world that once only belonged to men. But workplace gender equality still has a long way to go overall. To that point, many of us are probably familiar with gendered professional challenges like the glass ceiling, the wage gap, or even sexual harassment. But what about the pink collar?

About the Pink Collar

In 1977, Louise Kapp Howe added “pink collar” to common workplace jargon. A prominent social reformist and feminist writer, Howe categorized pink-collar jobs of her day as low-skill, low-wage, or low-mobility positions and that were usually held by women. The term was intended as a counterpart to blue-collar manufacturing jobs that were traditionally male-dominated.

Today, most of us have “blue collar” or “white collar” fully in our vocabulary. Yet, “pink collar” remains on the fringes. Howe’s pink-collar workers would have held occupations like teacher, nurse, or secretary. However, its definition continues to evolve for the modern workplace and higher education levels. Though some social columnists have called for an end to the label, the pink collar is still associated with roles dominated by women. The modern pink collar especially includes jobs that emphasize soft skills like communication and customer service.

Wearing a Pink Collar in Title Insurance

The pink collar is particularly visible in the land title industry. In 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women accounted for 74% of all insurance clerks, claims professionals, underwriters, and paralegals.

If you look over your own company’s title curative, examiner, paralegal, or administrative teams, there’s a good chance you’ll find a similar distribution. While women make up a significant majority of the production force across the title and settlement sectors, they earned less than the median wage, on average, in each key position.

But why talk about gender in the title and appraisal space at this particular moment?

This January is striking many of us as an especially important occasion with the turn of the new decade. Coincidentally, 2020 is also the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, securing women’s right to vote. Women’s rights have continued to advance in the century since, but this momentous milestone can also serve as reminder not to take that progress for granted. As January hiring picks up, it seems only fitting to commemorate a century of women’s suffrage by thinking about how we employ women in title insurance and adjacent industries. Afterall, women account for well over half of the frontline professionals who make sure that our most valuable asset—our property—actually belongs to us.

Gender Equality During Hiring and Beyond

Thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, gender equality in the workplace is standard policy. However, it never hurts to continue to evaluate our workplace culture so that this policy is also our practice. Some ways to continue to promote a more inclusive workplace are to:

1. Be Aware of Gendered Language in Job Descriptions.

The language we use in job descriptions can subconsciously play to gender stereotypes. When we ask for “strong” leaders, “aggressive” salespeople, or to “dominate” a market, we’re calling on masculine-coded language to find our ideal candidates. Similarly, language that calls on applicants to collaborate, assist, or enact caring can appeal to traditionally-feminine expectations for nurturing and cooperation. Gendered language is often so natural in our daily and business vocabularies that we hardly think about it when we use it. But without even saying words like “woman” or “she,” we can alienate exceptional potential applicants—both male and female. Having a diverse group of proofreaders can help ensure that the language on position descriptions and official documents is inclusive for everyone in the candidate pool.

2. Offer Transparent Leave Policies.

Expectations for women to play traditional roles as caretakers and as mothers continue to impact them in the workplace. Assumptions that women will be more devoted to their families than their jobs impact them during and beyond the hiring process. One way to amend this trend is to reshape how we present absences at work. During hiring, we can strive to offer transparency about vacations, personal time, paid leave, and unpaid leave. We can offer all employees flexible work schedules and remote opportunities where those benefits are practical.

Additionally, Glassdoor found that Americans only use half of their vacation time, partly due to a “fear” of falling behind. So, as well as offering reasonable flexibility, we can also create a work culture that makes it acceptable to use that leave. In fact, universal parental leave has been shown to benefit women and men alike. Moreover, a push for work-life balance can improve mental health and increase workplace satisfaction.

3. Watch for Women in Leadership.

The door for women in leadership positions has been opening wider and wider. In our sector, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) stands as an example for equality in its upper ranks. Increasingly, the organization has seen female presidents elected to the Board of Governors, and four of ALTA’s six executives are women. Having qualified women in leadership positions can be one of many signals to female candidates and workers across the board that a company values women’s mobility. This doesn’t necessarily require a company’s total restructuring. Including female employees in interview processes, policy-making decisions, and even in planning teambuilding events can also be meaningful ways to show current and potential women employees that the company welcomes their voices.

4. Commit to Constantly Assessing Equality.

Perhaps most importantly, we should strive to foster a workplace culture that is committed to equality. Some ways to consciously and pro-actively promote a gender-equal workplace include:

  1. Combating sexual harassment by continuing to offer HR the resources and authority it needs
  2. Evaluating company pay practices to constantly ensure that we aren’t unintentionally contributing to the wage gap
  3. Offering gender sensitivity training to all employees in order to promote mutual understanding
  4. Offering resources for women to find solidarity with their peers around the real estate closing table.

Organizations like CREW Network for the global advancement of women in commercial real estate and the Women’s Council of Realtors are just two examples of resources for outreach and professional development in real estate-adjacent industries.

The bottom-line is that gender equality in the workplace continues to be a difficult and often-controversial issue. Women’s equality is only one particular piece of this puzzle. The experience of men in pink-collar roles and the significance of gender and sexual identities add layers of complication. Yet, as we enter another century of women’s rights, continuing to evaluate our hiring processes and workplace cultures can only benefit all of us—no matter what color of collar we wear.

The Gift of Holiday Hiring

The holidays often bring warm thoughts of family, celebrations—and some hard-earned time off. In the land title insurance, settlement, and appraisal industries, we see this season as a time to close the books on a year well-done. Office parties take the place of team meetings; we wrap up both projects and presents. We sometimes leave many new challenges for the New Year—including hiring.

If you push hiring to the bottom of your To-Do list, you’re not alone. It’s common for both companies and candidates to slow down their job searches at the end of the year, even though many business writers like Debra Donston-Miller of Ladders advise against it.

After all, the breaks that the end of the year promises also come with the final push to meet quarterly benchmarks, set new goals, and finalize future budgets. A lot of stress can come with that holiday cheer!

But it’s also true that the New Year rush to hire floods the market with both jobs and job-seekers. Instead of thinking of winter as a time to put a freeze on hiring, consider six reasons to warm up to holiday hiring:

1. Seasons’ Greetings and Budget Meetings

A new hire is an investment in the health and talent of a team.

Throughout the Real Estate and Financial sectors, the end of the calendar year usually means it’s time to re-budget. New hires can be a big factor in the layout of your financial plan. But it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate picture of your finances or your hiring capability without having a sense of what your team will look like in the new year. Starting the hiring process early can eliminate some of the financial surprise expected in bringing on new personnel.

Spending a little more can mean high returns in productivity and revenue long after the holiday season ends. You can set your team up for success and growth on the very first day of the new year by finding a new leader early.

2. New Year. New You. New Hire.

Resolution Season can prime people for change, even if they aren’t actively job-hunting.

The culture of making resolutions and the symbolic power of the New Year can influence us even if we don’t plan on making a formal resolution. This can be good for businesses looking for top talent when unemployment is at a 10-year low. The open-mindedness and good-will associated with the season can make even passive candidates more receptive to change.

Just as businesses use this time to budget, individuals are also thinking about meeting financial goals. Maybe unsurprisingly, 53% of resolutions involve saving money. Even for high-earners, the holidays can come with a huge price tag. There are donations to make, gifts to buy, and travel arrangements to book. A new job, better benefits, higher pay, or even a shorter commute can all appeal to goals for saving.

3. All I Want for Christmas is an Em-ploy-ee

Holiday hiring puts you in front of top talent first.

Low unemployment rates are driving up the competition to find quality workers. Top talent is tied down across the board in title insurance, appraisal, and settlement. The executive and managerial levels are especially tight, with only 2% of leadership candidates unemployed at this time last year.

However, you can get an edge in the candidate search by leveraging holiday time. The reality is that many companies do slow down hiring, despite expert advice not to. This can be to your advantage. Holiday hiring puts you on candidates’ radar long before the traditional mid-January job rush. With fewer companies competing for candidates at once, you can make meaningful, lower-pressure connections with the best people.

4. There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

The hiring process takes time, and the holidays build in plenty of it.

The holidays offer a decent amount of flexibility, between office closures and project completions. Candidates are more likely to be able to take time away for interviews without compromising their normal work. Furthermore, Glassdoor found that over half of workers only use up “about half” of their vacation time. Vacation accrual not only allows for flexibility to interview. It also offers candidates a good reason to submit their resignation early in order to start fresh in a new role.

5. It’s Snow Time for Home-Buying

During the winter slowdown, new executives have a chance to fully settle-in with their teams.

The real estate market typically shows the least activity between October and February. This also slows down title insurance, settlement, and appraisal needs. It may seem strange to take on new employees during the off-season. But it takes time to onboard and to acclimate to company culture take time. Even the most adaptable leaders often face an adjustment period with new teams and office environments. You can capitalize on the holiday season as a chance to give new leaders time to hit their stride before peak season. And you won’t be as likely to use valuable resources to hire, onboard, or train during the summer rush.

6. 8 Days of Hanukkah, 36 Days of Hiring

By moderate estimates, it takes 36 days to hire someone.

At the executive level, this timeline easily increases to 45-90+ days to allow for market research and the vetting of high-quality candidates. If you wait until January 1 to start a talent search, you may not have the position filled until March or later.

While this timeline can be daunting, any progress is still progress. Using the holidays to work for you starts the hiring process earlier than for those companies that wait until after New Year’s Day. Holiday hiring helps you beat the January rush and moves up the likely timeline for placement.

The Bow on it All:

Holiday hiring can give you an advantage over competitors. Top talent is in extremely high demand. Getting an early start on hiring can match you with executives before the New Year hiring thaw and jumpstart your returns at the closing table. And if resources are tight during the seasonal bustle, there are other ways to help you cross “Holiday Hiring” off your Wishlist. Networking at holiday parties, interviewing digitally, or even partnering with a trusted third-party recruiter can all be ways to capitalize on the holidays without added stress. No matter how you use holiday hiring, think of it as the best business gift you can give yourself.