As more women join the labour force, Malta’s real estate market remains generally considered a male-dominated realm where women seem to play a somewhat secondary role. Meanwhile, whilst Alliance Real Estate Group still has slightly more men than women working in their branches, the company is decidedly celebrating women’s participation in leadership roles to effectively address any remaining misconceptions about gender balance.
Data from the International Labour Organization’s ILOSTAT database indicates that when Alliance was first set up in 2006, less than one out of every three workers in Malta were women (31.5%), and today, females still make up only 42.7% of the entire gainfully employed population in the country. Moreover, women are also still lagging behind men in terms of salaries. According to data from the National Statistics Office, in 2020, the average gross salary in Malta was estimated to be €2735 higher for men than for women. However, since this statistic is based on an average gross annual basic salary for employees of €18,913, it may not be so relevant for self-employed individuals such as those working in real estate. For example, estate agents working as sales or letting advisors with a company like Alliance Group are generally engaged as self-employed entrepreneurs in the form of a symbiotic relationship with the agency. As a result, their earning potential is usually much higher than this modest national average for employees, with some males or females reaching six-figure annual incomes.
Alliance advisors are supported with administration services, training programmes, technical assistance and the full backing of the company’s corporate infrastructure to achieve their maximum earning potential without limitations. Furthermore, there is absolutely no discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity or other factors. Apart from being contrary to its culture of inclusivity, it would also restrict the group’s ambitious growth objectives.
“We are always on the lookout for more capable and determined entrepreneurs to work with us as real estate professionals, and gender-based selection has never even been a consideration for us”, contends Alliance CEO Michael Bonello.
“Our corporate setup helps well-established agents grow and, at the same time, supports new entrants on their journey to get licensed as professional estate agents within a matter of a few weeks. With thirteen offices and two new branch openings planned for later this year, we always have room for more people to join our teams, and the last thing we want is to restrict the already limited talent pool out there”, he continues.
The scarcity of potential female candidates for entrepreneurial-based roles is visible in statistical data. According to development indicators compiled from officially recognized sources by the World Bank, in 2020, self-employed females made up only 7.925% of the Maltese workforce. However, with Alliance Group now numbering more than 200 people, and just over 40% of them being women, the company is amongst the most gender-balanced agency in the industry, and looking at leadership roles, the males to females ratio gap is narrowing even further than ever.
“In our industry, people reach leadership roles based solely on their entrepreneurial abilities and, ultimately, their performance. So it’s not a question of simply issuing a policy to promote more women leaders”, concludes Bonello.
Some of the leading real estate ladies at Alliance
Erika Deguara | Co-Franchise Owner, Alliance Attard
Erika joined Alliance in 2021 when she signed on as franchise owner to operate Alliance Attard with her business partner Nikki Vella Petroni. Her background in hospitality business management and her vast network of contacts in real estate investments yield excellent results for the branch, with a growing team of sales and letting advisors active in all areas of the property market.
Lorraine Dimech | Co-Franchise Owner, Alliance Birkirkara
When Lorraine and her husband Jamie signed on as franchise owners of Alliance Birkirkara in 2021, Lorraine pivoted from her academic career to support their growing business with her superb people skills. Fortunate enough to work together daily, this husband and wife team are nurturing and supporting a growing team of sales and letting advisors offer a high degree of personal service to their clients.
Brenda Magri | Senior Property Advisor, Alliance Marina
Brenda’s success in real estate is evident by the numerous certificates and trophies she has collected in the six years she has worked in the sector. Highly driven and determined to provide the best value to her clients, she relentlessly pursues her goals, dealing with people from all walks of life very effectively. Amongst her many experiences, in 2020, she gained wide praise for her creative solution to help a visually impaired person “see” what soon became his future home.
Ina Pavlova | Franchise Owner, Alliance by Steps Properties
Ina is the most recent addition to the Alliance Group management team, as she recently signed on as franchise owner for Alliance by Steps Properties in St Julian’s. Ina is determined to accelerate the growth of the estate agency she started nine years ago, with the benefits of the Alliance brand, infrastructure, training, marketing and operations management support.
Abigail Simiana | Letting Chief Operating Officer
Abigail joined in 2021 to set up and lead the newly launched Alliance Letting division. With her experience in customer service, sales management, property letting, and the support of the Alliance management team, in the past six months, Alliance Letting has built a team of over fifty letting agents speaking more than 12 languages to cater for a diverse client base.
Ritianne Spiteri | Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Administration
Ritianne leads the admin team comprising thirteen office administrators from different Alliance branches, who are responsible for the day-to-day management of the branch office administration, supporting some 200 sales and letting advisors across the network. She also has the crucial responsibility of coordinating with the company’s AML office to ensure operations remain fully compliant with all anti-money laundering regulations.
Ana-Marija Zafirovska | Branch Manager, Alliance San Gwann
Ana-Marija runs the Alliance branch in San Gwann with a team of 20 dedicated sales and letting property advisors, who are among the top performing in the group. She graduated with a degree in Sociology in Macedonia and achieved a Master’s in Marketing after moving to Malta in 2010. Ana-Marija worked in marketing and advertising roles and then moved to real estate, eventually working her way up to management in this field.
This feature article was originally published on Money magazine.