The past year and a half have amplified the need for diversity, equity and inclusion across the nation. Calls for social justice were heard from the television to our neighborhoods, and diversity efforts didn’t just stop there. Businesses and organizations took a hard second look to consider whether they had been contributing to a diverse and inclusive workplace.
When it comes to the real estate industry, an inclusive workplace is critical to counteracting decades of redlining, including years of prejudiced appraisal and lending practices. This is particularly why brokerages have an important role to play in the search for diversity, equity and inclusion — prioritizing diversity efforts in the workplace are effective in dismantling unjust trends and practices.
Effective management practices for developing a diverse workplace include:
The clear first step to developing a diverse workplace is with a top-down leadership approach. This requires more than an organization that just “plays diversity” — not making a hire for the optics. Prioritizing diversity in the workplace isn’t a trend or a box to check. In fact, it’s imperative for the success of your organization and it starts with you as its leader.
1. Rather than “playing diversity” take a hard look at your current organization. Ask yourself how diversity is developing in your organization. Start with these questions:
- Are you living up to your company’s diversity standards or statement?
- What does your organization’s hiring data show?
- Are salaries equal for people of color as well as for women?
- Do company policies address racism and biases in the workplace?
- Is there an initiative in place to educate employees on the history implications and current disparities?
2. Recognize you might not be a diversity, equity and inclusion expert
If you don’t understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in your brokerage, or even how to implement it, hire professional help. Bringing in professionals or developing a task force, or council, is what’s best for your organization and for the development of a diverse workforce. Keller Williams, for example, has been a leader in diversity efforts within the real estate industry. In 2020, the organization made it a point to tackle diversity issues with its own KW National Equity Task Force and further added the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
Hiring practices that come with a commitment to increase diversity
In addition to a top-down approach, management must approach the hiring process with diversity in mind. T360 recently suggested a plan to implement a commitment to diversity in your organization. Here are a few steps to follow when going through the hiring process:
Job descriptions should be written with diversity in mind
The hiring process starts with the job description — T360 notes that the commitment to developing a diverse workplace comes down to something as small as word choice. Words like “mature” could prevent the hiring of younger candidates while gender-biased titles could eliminate female candidates. Avoid words with negative connotations and make it a point to list gender-neutral titles without specifying any pronouns.
Address bias in hiring decisions
Aside from the job description, a key area to address workplace diversity is within hiring decisions. The makeup of the hiring committee plays a big role — it needs to be diverse and include more than one step. By including several steps in the hiring process, it ensures that different people will interview, look at resumes and make final decisions. In addition, this process also ensures that your company takes several team members’ thoughts into consideration. One piece to consider is the resume evaluation process. Harvard Business Review states that diverse-sounding names are not given as strong a look as traditional names. Avoid taking demographic characteristics into consideration by reviewing resumes blindly. Remove any information, like a name, age, zip code or college, that implicit bias could affect.
Be actively involved in diverse communities
Going back to the top-down approach, your organization isn’t going to support or be informed of diverse communities without your support. First step is to stay informed and invest in understanding the diverse communities served by your organization. The National Association of Realtors has several resources for developing a diverse workplace including a roadmap, grants, real estate organizations, and more. By showing a commitment to your diverse communities, you will attract the attention of diverse employees. Support community events, local nonprofits and other initiatives that show you support diverse communities.
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