The year 2020 was historic on many levels, including a racial awakening triggered by the death of George Floyd in May. Throughout the year, Americans in every region and every profession began having more of the hard conversations that are needed to help us all understand each other. Efforts to right the racist wrongs of the past, to defuse racial tension, and to increase diversity in our communities and our company are important to every member of the John L. Scott Real Estate family.
We understand that intentionality is essential to creating the world we all want, where people from every race, ethnic background, religion, gender, sexual orientation and ability can live and work harmoniously. Real estate agents and brokers have an important role to play, particularly as the uneven rates of homeownership among different races and continued incidents of discrimination came to light last year. Our approach includes building awareness of the issues, having collaborative conversations about equity, educating ourselves and others in the real estate community, providing leadership on diversity and taking action to promote inclusion.
While we are a forward-looking company, we also understand that some elements of the past must be addressed, understood, and rectified. We are keeping the conversation alive within our field about the role government policy played and the complicity of members of society and the real estate industry in discriminatory practices.
One way we are driving a positive change is through our ongoing outreach to our partners in the title industry and county recorders as well as to state legislators to remove racist neighborhood covenants and deed restrictions that continue to exist in title documents across the states where we serve. While this language is not enforceable under current law, it is harmful. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s comment from his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech is still relevant today in the context of lingering racial covenants: “We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-worth and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘For Whites Only’.”
To understand how we can all do our part to drive equity and inclusion, we hold relevant events with our employees and brokers. We covered all costs for every employee and broker to attend the six-hour long “At Home with Diversity” course developed by the National Association of Realtors. In fact, it is my personal mission to encourage NAR to make this course mandatory for every Realtor in the United States to increase understanding of the Fair Housing Act and the role of Realtors in improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the housing market and beyond.
When I read Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, I recognized that this book is something everyone in the real estate community should read or listen to via audiobook. We provided the audiobook to each member of our executive team and requested that leaders of all of our offices complete the book and discuss the book with their teams. I’m advocating that NAR take a similar approach with this seminal book.
At John L. Scott, we’re committed to our declaration in support of diversity: Together, we are making an impact on society and we appreciate the powerful spirit within each individual. We each have a different shade of skin color. We each have a different faith or spirituality. We each have a gender identity and sexual orientation. We each have a different ancestry with culture, customs and language. This is what makes each of us special.
John L. Scott Real Estate, led by third-generation Chairman and CEO J. Lennox Scott, has been helping buyers and sellers realize their homeownership dreams since 1931. JLS has 101 offices with more than 3,000 brokers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. JLS is recognized as one of the top 20 residential real estate brands in the nation.