Last summer, everyone was on the quest for equality, but where are we one year after George Floyd’s murder? Julia Lashay Israel, Keller Williams head of diversity, equity and inclusion, shares some initiatives she’s embracing.

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

It has been over a year since George Floyd’s murder moved not only our country but also the world.

In reflecting on the year since the summer of 2020, I have seen numerous tribute posts but one in particular by Kanarys Inc. labeled, How the Murder of George Floyd Changed Corporate America Forever, made me wonder about the real estate industry.


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Has the real estate industry really changed forever? Or was the quest for equitable real estate solutions simply a trend that’s fading out?

Then I came across Dr. Monica Cox’s (the first Black woman to receive tenure as an engineering professor at The Ohio State University, and I must say both “congratulations” and “Go Blue!”) now-viral tweet that you may have heard about as she has since been featured on cable news:

Instead of showing me your diversity statement, show me your hiring data, your discrimination claim stats, your salary tables, your retention numbers, your diversity policies and your leaders’ public actions against racism. End performative allyship.

There are no lies there. She articulated a necessary challenge to every organization, including our real estate associations and firms:

In the past year, how have our organization’s hiring data, discrimination claim statistics, salary tables, retention numbers, diversity policies and leaders’ public actions against racism improved on the J.E.D.I. (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) journey?

How can our organizations check this at least annually?

By the way, Dr. Cox calls anything less than this “playing diversity.” Playing diversity puts me in the mind of playing doctor, where the players often get tired of playing at a whim’s notice and can cavalierly move on to the next trendy topic of play. Such play was fun, and even appropriate, as children — not so much as culpable adults.

How Keller Williams is tackling J.E.D.I. head on

Well, if Gary Keller has anything to say about it, last summer’s momentum has not gone kaput. It is here to stay, and Julia Lashay Israel, Keller Williams’ new head of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), is charged with making sure of it.

If your brokerage is stuck, check out my interview with Israel for ideas that may reenergize your commitment to fair housing (and going beyond, to being a J.E.D.I. leader).

In this video we discuss:

  • Key DEI initiatives KW has begun that may be beneficial at your brokerage as well (they don’t mind sharing secrets).
  • Why top-down leadership is important to DEI work and who modeled it at KW.
  • How to lead up if those at the helm of your brokerage or organization do not yet see the need for DEI work.

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.

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

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