In your role as a real estate broker, you and your team will deal with people from different backgrounds, races, cultures, ages, genders and occupations. To run a successful real estate business, it’s critical that you encourage a culture of equity and inclusion. All staff members should feel valued and comfortable in their working environment. And, your team should ensure that all clients they come into contact with feel comfortable and safe too.
Here are 5 things brokers can do to cultivate a culture of equity and inclusion among your team…
1. Understand What Equity and Inclusion Is and Commit To It
The word “Equity” means fair and impartial treatment for everyone, regardless of race, gender or other attributes. “Inclusion” is the practice of providing equal access to opportunities (for example, jobs and housing) and making people feel included.
We all come to work with our different backgrounds and biases (either conscious or unconscious). Factors such as our upbringing, culture and past experiences influence who we are, not only in the workplace, but also in life. As a broker, you’re a leader in your workplace. Brokers need to commit to equity and inclusion and lead by example, so your team can follow. So what can you do?
Try to be self-aware of any biases and look at your business from the point-of-view of others. You want to build a greater level of empathy for others in your team and on your diverse client list.
Celebrate the differences, don’t pretend they don’t exist. Healthy conversations about bias and prejudice can create positive change. There is so much value in equity and inclusion for a business owner, especially in the real estate industry. Brokers committed to equity and inclusion reap the benefits through:
- Attracting a larger portion of the talent pool
- Attracting a more diverse range of clients.
- Being less likely to face a lawsuit for discrimination or a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
2. DIY Equity and Inclusiveness Audit
Take the time to reflect on your brokerage. What do you currently do that promotes equity and inclusiveness in your business?
Do you have processes in place to ensure equal opportunity?
Do you consider the religious holidays of all your staff when organizing team meetings and events?
Do you have a policy on anti-discrimination and racism? Are your expectations clear as to what behaviors are acceptable?
Do you encourage a culture of respect among your team and ensure this flows down to all client contact as well?
Once you’ve identified what you already do, then think about things you don’t do, but could.
- Involving your team in this exercise is a great way to gain staff “buy-in” and to ensure your team supports your equity and inclusion goals.
3. Foster a Supportive Work Environment
All employees and clients should feel safe, comfortable and supported, regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances. And, the only way to make sure that happens is to continuously communicate, seek feedback, and build better relationships. Brokers have a leadership responsibility to ensure everyone in their team has a sense of belonging. Your agents have a responsibility to ensure the same sense of belonging is passed on to clients.
That means taking action if something isn’t right. For example, if one of your real estate licensees is being subject to discriminatory comments or hate speech on your brokerage’s social media pages, make a stand and do something about it. Tell the community that is not acceptable and/or remove offensive posts quickly, so your team knows you’ve got their back.
4. Continuously Reinforce The Message to Minimize Your Risks
Cultivating a culture of equity and inclusion isn’t as simple as posting a code of conduct in the break room. It’s about consistent communication. Use team meetings or training days to reinforce these messages. Continuous and repetitive messaging can help your team remember that equity and inclusiveness is important for your brokerage, and for them as real estate professionals.
Your team needs to understand the consequences of not being equitable and inclusive. It’s illegal to discriminate against another employee because of their color, race, religion, gender, age or disability.
In delivering real estate services, real estate professionals need to consider the Fair Housing Act. This Act prohibits housing discrimination.
- Your team cannot deny housing on the basis of color, race, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or nation of origin.
- They also cannot publish advertisements that demonstrate a preference for any particular group. For example, they can’t say, “No Kids” in a rental property ad as that is discriminatory on the basis of family status.
If your agents are REALTORS®, they could also face disciplinary action for a Code of Ethics violation through the NAR.
5. Protect Yourself From a Lawsuit
Having the right insurance coverage is important for brokers. It’s a way to minimize your liability and protect yourself and your business if a lawsuit arises. CRES offers Real Estate Errors and Omissions Insurance to protect you from risks specific to real estate.. With CRES E&O + ClaimPrevent®, you’ll even get free access to qualified attorneys. Our legal team will be able to answer any risk management questions you may have, 7 days a week.
Contact the CRES team at 800-880-2747 for a confidential discussion today. Or Find Your E&O Solution