Darcy Sledge could tell you stories that would make your skin crawl. Fresh out of school and working in the oil industry, Sledge’s new coworkers never let her forget that it was a man’s world.
“I had to take a typing test just because I was a female employee. I was told to my face that women didn’t belong in this business, that men needed this money more than I did,” she said.
Even so, Sledge was given all the same responsibilities as any man in her job, and she was ultimately promoted to the title of Landman, making her the first woman in the company to ever achieve that role. Of course, her promotion was done in total secrecy, she said, in stark contrast to the fanfare and company-wide announcements that inevitably followed men’s promotions within the company.
After earning her MBA, Sledge moved to New York to work for Credit Suisse. There, while pregnant with her first child, she inquired about the bank’s maternity leave policy – and upon discovering there wasn’t one, was asked to create it.
The real estate business was Sledge’s introduction to a female-friendly industry, and she’s taken on the job with all the gusto and gravity she applied in that first job out of school.
Liz-Ann Koos, who nominated Sledge for a Woman of FIRE Award, first came to know Sledge as a mentor, when Koos was just beginning her real estate career.
“She’s an educator in the broad sense. She takes the time and the patience to work with you,” Koos said. “If something came up, she would share the experience as a lesson. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the business from her.”
Sledge also fundraises for the Sunshine Kids, a charity that benefits children with cancer. She volunteers on the boards of the Westport Historical Society and the Mid-Fairfield County Board of Realtors, and she works with the Invasive Plant Council at the University of Connecticut, doing what she can to eradicate invasive vines in her community.
“It’s important to take some of your energy and give it back to the community. We have many professionals in our community who work long hours and don’t have time to give back,” Sledge said. “I don’t want to be one of those people.”
Asked what advice she might share with somebody just starting their career, Sledge said, “I would say, having someone as a mentor is very important within your organization, someone who supports you. Don’t ever give up. Keep your head down. Take your job seriously and remember that your actions reflect on the industry as a whole.”