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Real estate industry leaders speak out on George Floyd protests

By Mike Wheatley | June 8, 2020

Real estate leaders have spoken out in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests against police brutality, vowing change in the industry.

National Association of Realtors President Vince Malta led the way, calling the death of Floyd “senseless and tragic”. He expressed sympathy for the family of Floyd, as well as others who’ve experienced similar grief and pain.

"Our neighbors in the communities where we work and live across America should feel safe and free from discrimination," Malta said in a statement. "As longtime champions of fair housing, equality and inclusion are among NAR’s most cherished values. NAR is committed to leading the way on policies that address racial injustice and that build safe and inclusive communities. Building the future begins with equal access to housing and opportunity for all."

Keller Williams CEO Gary Keller wrote in a letter to agents Monday that he believes racism is wrong, and that his company stands with the black community in support of equality. He said the company plans to create a task force within its International Associate Leadership Council that will come up with recommendations on how to eliminate racial disparity in the real estate industry.

“I will be reaching out to your regions immediately to ask for a nomination from each to join us in this critical effort,” Keller wrote. “I believe we can also set an example within the industry by committing more of ourselves to a better, and equitable future.”

Keller further asked his staff to “self-reflect, listen, learn and speak up to bring about change.”

“I believe that the real estate community has a unique opportunity to promote healing and reform,” Keller’s letter read.

Meanwhile, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said that he too was planning to do more within his own company.

“The most obvious thing is hiring and developing more people of color to positions of power,” Kelman wrote on Redfin’s blog on Sunday. “We say that we believe talent is equally distributed between people of different races, but most businesses, including Redfin, are run mostly by white people.”

Redfin plans to publish its annual report on employee diversity later this month, and will go into more detail about which of its diversity initiatives are working and which aren’t, as well as what the company plans next. He also said he plans to provide more education to his workforce on race and real estate.

“Let’s commit as businesses and business people to serve blacks and other people of color better,” he wrote. “Companies that employ hundreds or thousands may feel it’s beyond our control to stop one grocer or bank teller or broker from jumping to the wrong conclusion about a customer, and doing something racist that hurts that customer, and stains our reputation for years.”

Another executive, Compass CEO and co-founder Robert Reffkin, said he saw himself as a “black man who has felt out of place his entire life.”

In a company-wide email, he said he was heartbroken that the pain everyone is feeling now might still not be enough to bring about real change.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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