At Inman Disconnect, I attended the session on radical transparency. It was a fascinating discussion that explored a wide variety of issues related to what is the right amount of transparency that best serves the interests of all parties involved.

At Inman Disconnect, I attended the session on radical transparency. It was a fascinating discussion that explored a wide variety of issues related to what is the right amount of transparency that best serves the interests of all parties involved.

Transparency touches every aspect of our industry at every level. Lack of transparency can breed distrust, which ultimately can result in a loss of business. Facebook’s lack of transparency regarding its business practices has resulted in serious damage to its brand as well as loss of customers.

In our session, we discussed a wide variety of issues regarding transparency including:

  • Should brokers reveal all the details of their profits and losses to their agents?
  • Should agents reveal how much they spend on marketing and other services to their clients?
  • Should the MLSs and the boards of Realtors be more transparent about how much money they take in, about compensation of their executives and other expenses?
  • Should vendors who seek to disrupt the business be forthcoming about how profitable they are or are not?
  • Should companies who sell leads, reveal what the quality of those leads including what percentage of those leads are sent to multiple agents?

We were then tasked with boiling down our responses to one word.

Trust, mutual alignment and accountability

As we searched for our one word, we initially settled on “trust.” There’s no doubt that trust is at the heart of all connection. When we trust a person or a company, we believe that they have integrity and that they will do the right thing.

Chris Drayer, CEO and co-founder of Revaluate, came up with a different word, “trust-parency,” to describe how trust works with transparency. Being transparent leads to trust, but where do you draw the line on how much transparency is appropriate?

The takeaway was, “It depends.”

For example, if brokers reveal too much about their financials to their agents, it can be extremely confusing to their agents, especially if they don’t understand cash flow within a brokerage.

As the conversation continued, the group added “alignment” to “trust-parency.” Trust is created and maintained when we feel that our interests are mutually aligned with each other.

But there is an additional step that was missing. Our group ultimately settled on the word “accountability” as the word that we would bring back to the group.

Accountability occurs when our interests our mutually aligned and when we take responsibility for our actions. These are the precursors to creating trust (trust-parency). In other words, it’s a sense that the person or company that we’re working with, has got our back.

During the 60-plus interviews I have conducted with women managers and brokers, at least 20 of them said that, “My broker has my back,” was among the most important quality.

Thank you for having my back!

This conference was wonderful, but tough for me at the same time. Monday morning, I missed a small step and took a very nasty fall. I ended up at Urgent Care in an Aircast brace with explicit instructions to stay off my badly sprained ankle. I could take a few steps but still needed a wheelchair to go even a short distance.

I had several important takeaways from this experience.

First and foremost, I want to thank the many people who “had my back” by driving my wheelchair, getting me water, bringing me a plate of food and checking in on me to make sure that I was all right.

I especially want to thank Valerie Torelli who carted me off to urgent care, Alex Tieu who was my driver to breakfast each day, Jennifer Berman who headed out to drugstore to get me some one-time use ice packs, and Sandra Miller who got me back safely to L.A. I also enjoyed the ride with my “celebrity driver,” Mauricio Umansky.

This is what I love about the Inman community and our industry in general. For all the criticisms about real estate agents, this industry has tens of thousands of people who model their heart of service in every aspect of their business and their personal lives.

Unfortunately, while the grounds of the hotel were spectacular, I quickly learned how risky it is for anyone who had mobility issues, such as knee or hip replacement, to simply get around.

I was nearly thrown out of the chair 10 times as it caught on uneven pathways or sand. I was pushed into bushes twice as my friends tried to help, but wheelchairs are not designed for use at night on dirt pathways with potholes.

In fact, in a number of places, there was no way to push through them, and in one case, I almost took another bad fall as I tried to stand up to get out of the chair so they could move it.

As I think back to all the conversations I’ve heard over the past year about diversity, the discussions about the needs of those with disabilities seems to have fallen off the radar. It certainly was missing at Disconnect. In fact, we seldom think about this until we face it first-hand or with a friend or family member.

This conversation will become increasingly important as boomers face their own mobility issues and the industry struggles to provide the one-story, wheelchair accessible housing needs required to meet a burgeoning demand.

These are issues that our industry cannot afford to ignore and should be a focal point of the manifesto. Furthermore, I hope that future Inman Disconnects will accommodate the accessibility needs of all those who would like to attend.

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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