Dear Sirs: an open letter to the property industry

Words by

Ellie Rees

At Brickworks, we want to shape a progressive agenda for the property sector and positively impact those working within it. As part of that, we aim to highlight and dismantle sexist attitudes and behaviours that we believe have gone unchallenged for too long.

In this open letter, which has been sent to industry leaders, we aim to illustrate how this drive is relevant and why it’s necessary. For anyone that has experienced sexism or gender bias in their workplace, we would be delighted if you would take a stand with us.

Dear Sirs,

I am Ellie Rees, Co-Founder of the independent estate agency, Brickworks. We are campaigning to eradicate the use of non-inclusive language in the workplace.

As part of that initiative, we are approaching estate agency leaders, as well as recruiters, solicitors and surveyors, asking them to stop using the salutation ‘Dear Sirs’. And to make it company policy. This out-moded language has no place in contemporary estate agency.

Although women hold over 40% of real estate positions worldwide, there is still a dominant male culture. ‘Dear Sirs’ reminds anyone who does not identify as a man that they are not being properly addressed and do not belong. That their opinion does not count. Like many small customs of industry, the salutation ‘Dear Sirs’ is so established that we don’t even notice it anymore. Together we must question the ingrained habits that, at first glance seem trivial, yet have such damaging consequences. Let’s rethink these conventions and overcome voices that dismiss the call for change ‘because it’s always been done that way’.

At Brickworks, we want all workplaces to be fairer, happier, and more harmonious. So, we are spearheading the campaign to drop ‘Dear Sirs’ within estate agency. In fact, we will no longer reply to anyone who doesn’t address our team accurately, however they identify: woman, man, or non-binary.

As a visible and progressive leader, we ask you to rally with us by stopping the use of ‘Dear Sirs’ and instead use ‘Dear All’. Collectively, we can effect real and meaningful change by taking a few simple steps: listening to, educating, and supporting our teams in doing the same. We need to level the playing field.

To better understand the scale of the problem, we have researched initiatives and campaigns tackling this issue head-on. A path has already been forged within other sectors, albeit with varying levels of success. Now is the time for our industry to lead the charge!

If you are looking for ways to enact change, look no further than the five examples on our pledge page here where you can also share your own thoughts and experiences. Add your voice to the campaign by committing to drop ‘Dear Sirs’. Join the list of signatures and watch the number of people grow. Making this stand will send a powerful message. And yet, it is such an easy fix.

With my sincerest gratitude for your support and feedback,