Building an inclusive brokerage is not just the right thing to do, but it’s the right thing from a business standpoint, according to Inman Connect panelists

Building an inclusive brokerage is not just the right thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do from a business standpoint, according to John Kelliher, the vice president of operations at Climb Real Estate. So how do brokerages do it?

Kelliher and a few other real estate leaders tried to answer this question at the real estate conference Inman Connect San Francisco on Wednesday.

John Kelliher

“We know that millennials now are the No. 1 demographic — 35 percent of all homebuying is coming from millennials, and they’re the most diverse population,” Kelliher said. “We have to catch up, as the agents serving those clients, to their values.”

Many companies have mandated diversity training, especially those that are part of a large franchisor. But there’s a number of other things that leaders can do that the panelists suggested.

Diversity comes from the top down

Kelliher said diversity starts with being intentional and leading by example. One of Climb Real Estate’s leaders is a political refugee from Cameroon who escaped persecution for being gay. Another is one of the Bay Area’s first openly transgender agents.

“With our leadership team, we have a number of men and women of different ethnic backgrounds,” Kelliher said. “It really permeates all the way down.”

Join diverse groups

Sherry Chris

Sherry Chris, the CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, the host of the panel, said that her company belongs to a number of diverse trade organizations and not simply just to check a box.

“We join groups to actually learn,” Chris said. “We belong to Asian Real Estate Association of America, The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.”

“It’s helped to create deep relationships with different types of people and made me much more aware,” Chris added.

Robert Cruz

Robert Cruz, the regional vice president and managing officer of Intero Real Estate Services is a member of multiple organizations and the Bay Area president of The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

“I love being involved in those organizations, they help bring so much awareness,” he said. “I would highly recommend, even if you’re not part of those minority groups, take advantage of meeting members that are, and sharing across the spectrum.”

Don’t hate, listen

Chris also asked the panelists: “Where does religious freedom fit in with inclusion in diversity?”

Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan

Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan, the president of the New York City-based Stribling and Associates, grew up Catholic and has a degree in philosophy. She gave a strongly worded response that garnered applause from the room about why — regardless of beliefs — there’s no place for hatred.

“I don’t think there’s a place for hatred,” she said. “If you don’t understand a group that doesn’t mean you have to dislike a group or have a prejudice.”

“You may think you only want a certain type of people working for you,” she added. “I’m pretty sure that’s not who your client base is going to be.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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