Modern research confirms diversity promotes and correlates with business success rather than scarcity — and one real estate company is pushing to make this a reality through its mentorship program. Here’s how.

This article series is largely taken from How to Be an Anti-Racist Real Estate Pro with permission from the author.

I love pizza (even though now I try to get healthier toppings and crust). But the problem is if there is only one slice for two hungry adults, either someone will go without or both people will still be hungry if they share it (unless, perhaps, it is a giant New York slice).

This may be how some of us view diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) — as a zero-sum game where there is only one piece of a pizza pie that we either have to share (leaving neither of us satisfied) or one of us goes without enjoying (allowing only one at a time to be satisfied).

It’s the 7-layer salad for me

But as much as I love pizza pies, there is a more comparable metaphor for DEI. I believe DEI is more like having a delightfully layered, cornucopia salad*. Just one or two ingredients in a salad can be dreadfully boring, although it may get the job done of quenching our hunger.

But we can up our satiety with more ingredients where a side salad can actually become a sought-after entrée. (Looking at you, Auntie and your seven-layer salad. Yum!

DEI is the filling dish to greater satisfaction for all. Modern research confirms diversity promotes and correlates with business success rather than scarcity. And one real estate company is pushing to make this a reality through its mentorship program.

Within the past year and in light of the tragic murder of George Floyd, Dream Town Realty started the InspiRE (see what it did there with the “RE,” giving a nod to real estate?) mentorship program. Conceptualized and developed by Yuval Degani, Dream Town Realty’s founder and CEO, the InspiRE mentorship program mentors aspiring real estate pros from underrepresented communities.

By the way, 86 percent of Realtors are white despite people of color winning access to the organization during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s after decades of explicit exclusion and segregation.

DEI doesn’t say, “Let’s have a battle royal for a limited number of slots to be Realtors” like the pizza pie analogy would require. Instead, DEI says, “The more, the merrier! And because these underrepresented groups (there is only 14 percent BIPOC) may not have Realtors naturally proximate to them to help them learn the ropes, let’s add to the salad ingredients that replace what has been missing.”

In essence, there is no subtraction or division — but rather a duplication. The admitted mentees are paired with seasoned RE brokers, and the mentees’ fees for both pre-license education and the state exam in Illinois are covered through the program. Someone pinch me because I must be dreaming. Oh wait, maybe that is why it’s called Dream Town Realty.

Equitable access and opportunity

April is fair housing month. In light of the anniversary of the original Fair Housing Act being enacted, which was spurred by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, I’m reminded of Dr. King’s words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” 

These words do not signify a quest for a colorblind society, where the inequities caused by racism are ignored, minimized, silenced and dismissed. That has been a false interpretation and misapplication of this famous speech.

Instead, these words — as evidenced by the context of Dr. King’s life — call for a society where opportunity and access are granted to all races, even those among the margins.

Dream Town Realty is making Dr. King’s dream a reality. Interested in how your firm can do something similar or if perhaps you should apply for this mentorship? Check out my chat with the Dream Town Realty InspiRE mentorship program team.

Who’s who in the video:

  • Yuval Degani: Founder and CEO of Dream Town Realty
  • Claire Reinhart: Vice president of administration and human resources
  • Kyle Barbour: Dream Town’s InspiRE mentorship 2021 program cohort participant
  • Danny Torres and Milly Ortiz: Dream Town’s InspiRE mentorship 2020 inaugural class graduates

Milly Ortiz of Dream Town Realty with her mentor (taken during her training).

Program highlights

The Dream Town Realty InspiRE mentorship program is a six-week commitment for six to eight hours per week. Dream Town will pay for the state licensing exam fees, and the 15-hour pre-license course will be provided through the Real Estate Institute.

Dream Town will provide training for mentees, explaining processes and crucial administrative functions. Mentees will shadow their mentor across all business functions — showings, client meetings, marketing meetings and more. Mentees will gain hands-on experience with behind-the-scenes tasks, such as entering new listings and creating marketing collateral.

Applications are always open on a rolling basis for the Dream Town Realty InspiRE mentorship program. Apply here.

Want a 2021 primer into race and real estate in the U.S.? Download today your complimentary copy of my new book, How to Be an Anti-Racist Real Estate Pro.

*Note: After reading this draft, my mom just told me that she remembers seeing an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show back in the 1990s with Jane Elliott (https://youtu.be/ebPoSMULI5U). On that show, Jane Elliott referenced the importance of using a salad analogy instead of a melting pot. I had no clue but I love that my line of thinking matches such a J.E.D.I. (justice, equity,  diversity & inclusion) trailblazer.

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, trainer and coach. Follow her on YouTube, or visit her website.

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