When a National Association of REALTORS® director took to the Hub earlier this year to express his disappointment that the 2022 Legislative Meetings & Expo conflicted with the end of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr, those who were paying attention witnessed a thoughtful, constructive exchange between that director and NAR leadership.
“The REALTOR® family works alongside and serves people of all walks of life, and thus we must strive to be intentionally inclusive in all that we do,” NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith said in response to the Hub post.
Initially, the 2022 conference was to be held at Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C., and did not conflict with the Muslim holidays. However, when the hotel closed and NAR shifted the conference to National Harbor on short notice, it was forced to schedule during the holidays or cancel the conference altogether.
“NAR regrets that the dates conflicted with these important days for Muslims, and we will strive to avoid that in the future,” Smith added.
Admittedly, my own association—the Howard County Association of REALTORS®—scheduled an event after sundown on the first day of Yom Kippur last year. It was again a situation where we were aware of the holiday but could not find another date that worked for our venue. We apologized to our Jewish members who contacted the association and assured them we will do everything we can to avoid this situation in the future.
To truly be an association that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, an association executive must look at every aspect of association management through a DEI lens. This includes ensuring inclusivity by accommodating members of various religious faiths.
The large Christian population in the U.S. shapes the way many organizations observe certain holidays, says Ryan Davis, NAR director of engagement, diversity and inclusion. “But we know we have members who represent all kinds of religious beliefs and denominations, so the goal is to proactively identify dates of religious observance,” he says.
Davis suggests that AEs survey members to understand their association’s demographic data, including religious affiliations. Be sure members know that surveys are anonymous, the information will be aggregated and questions are optional.
If an association drops the ball and schedules an event on a major religious holiday, Davis says, “Apologize and thank the members for bringing it to your attention. Tell them you will do the work to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Move the event if possible. If that’s not possible, let the members know the reason you can’t move it.”
The best way to avoid these situations, Davis says, is to plan ahead, solicit input from your DEI committee and ensure the staff member in charge of events is culturally responsive.