Transcript: Window to the Law: Creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy
Hi, I’m Charlie Lee, Senior Counsel at the National Association of REALTORS®.
Recent events have highlighted the work that still needs to be done to further diversity and inclusion. And we have seen REALTORS® leading in this area, which is no surprise because REALTORS® don’t just live or work in a community, REALTORS® serve and lead to make a positive impact. As the Code of Ethics says, REALTORS® are zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor. Implementing a Diversity and Inclusion program not only makes good business sense, it can also further your business’ compliance with existing laws and promote a culture that welcomes everyone and even help grow your business.
Creating a DEI policy is an important component of any DEI program, and is about promoting and encouraging positive and inclusive behavior, as opposed to prohibiting or policing bad conduct. DEI policies go above and beyond what the law may require. There may be some questions about adopting a policy that isn’t dictated by law, but companies already have policies that are not legally required but designed to elevate the organization. Examples of this are a customer service policy, and relevant here, a REALTOR® brokerages commitment to the NAR Code of Ethics which go above and beyond legal requirements in an effort to better serve clients and the public.
In fact, an added benefit of adopting a diversity and inclusion policy is that it can enable your organization to naturally avoid legal issues related to discrimination, harassment and Fair Housing. It signals that your organization is committed to incorporating diversity and inclusion into its culture, strategies and operations and that all workers, partners and clients are welcomed. And overall, your organization will benefit from a more diverse and inclusive workplace which studies have shown produce better performance, higher revenue growth and increased innovation and creativity.
So, what are some tips and ideas for you to consider as you embark on this important effort?
First, create a taskforce consisting of leaders, workers and consultants who can provide insight on what your organization has done well and what areas it can improve with diversity and inclusion.
Second, develop DEI values for your organization. For your general reference, diversity is the acknowledgment of there being differences in the workplace. Equity is about ensuring that everyone gets fair treatment and equal access to resources, opportunities and success. And inclusion is engaging everyone to contribute, participate and succeed. This means to not only invite someone to the dance, but to also invite them to dance.
Third, identify actionable items that will make your workplace reflect the diversity of your marketplace, that you work with vendors that share similar DEI values, and that everyone believes that their diversity is welcomed.
Fourth, determine staff training and development tools that can foster your organization’s DEI values and efforts. NAR’s At Home with Diversity certification, and recent programs like Fairhaven and implicit bias training are free resources that can be included into your DEI policy and program. For instance, one action item could be that all your agents complete these programs within a certain time period.
Lastly, install DEI champions to oversee your policy and related efforts. You can invest in a new position or assign tasks to existing employees such as those who served on the initial taskforce. The DEI champions can help ensure you meet your DEI goals, manage communications about the policy and continually monitor the success of your efforts.
Ultimately, the goal of the DEI policy is for the organization’s diversity efforts to happen naturally so that a policy and program becomes unnecessary.
Thank you for watching this episode of Window to the Law.