Culture Change

Nearly 500. That’s how many association executives joined with National Association of REALTORS® leadership on a video call in mid-September to talk over questions, concerns and our path forward after staff and member complaints about harassment and intimidation spilled into national news headlines.

This is not a place any of us would have wished to be. Still, I am encouraged that so many of us are talking about an issue that can be difficult for AEs to confront on our own. No doubt, we will continue to discuss what is needed to build new and better safeguards and procedures, and to examine how leaders are selected and how they interact with AEs and their staff members. All of us can take part in supporting a safe, inclusive environment where staff and leadership work together respectfully and transparently.

To that end, NAR has engaged Shaun Harper—a University of Southern California professor and the founder of the USC Race and Equity Center—to examine the organization at every level and to help us bring about positive change. Dr. Harper will be guiding a new culture project advisory group, the Culture Transformation Commission, as it develops key recommendations. While the effort is still evolving, it will include contributions from state and local AEs, NAR staff members and NAR members. As we heard on the call, AEs were invited and encouraged to nominate themselves for the commission or to provide input.

It’s important that each and every one of us take this moment to learn and focus on doing everything we can to ensure a welcoming culture.

I know that many people have been hurt and disappointed by the information reported by The New York Times and have expressed anger that more wasn’t done to address staff and member complaints. We know there’s a lot of work to be done. We also know that when an issue arises, our members and employees must feel safe to say something and feel heard.

It’s important that each and every one of us take this moment to learn and focus on doing everything we can to ensure a welcoming culture. What makes for a successful office culture? Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code, cites psychological safety and shared vulnerability as two critical ingredients.

To bring about positive change, we need to be open and willing to adapt. Let’s all do what we can to ensure the REALTOR® organization, at every level, is a safe, respectful environment for staff and members.

Written by: Jessica Coates, RCE, is CEO of the Sacramento Association of REALTORS® and 2023 AEC chair.



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