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Keller Williams new head of diversity and inclusion argued Wednesday that real estate consumers are going to become more and more diverse and that embracing diversity simply makes sense for business professionals.
Julia Lashay Israel made the comments during a Wednesday session of Keller Williams’ Mega Camp, which this year is a virtual conference with thousands of attendees. Israel, a longtime agent with Keller Williams, became the company’s head of inclusion and belonging in May and was subsequently tasked with beefing up diversity-oriented training at the franchisor.
During Mega Camp, she explained that “the United States is becoming more and more racially diverse.” And that, in turn, “presents an opportunity” for real estate professionals.
“We have more people to serve,” she said, adding a moment later that agents should embrace the concept that “diversity is beautiful, it’s great.”
Israel went on to note that the overall homeownership rate in the U.S. hovers around 65 percent. But that rate doesn’t apply to all ethnic groups equally.
Among white Americans, the rate is as high as 70 percent, but for Black Americans it’s “often less than 40 percent.” Other groups tend to fall somewhere in the middle of those two percentages, and helping people with historically less access to the housing market can mean agents will have more opportunities to do more deals.
Diversity has become a major issue in real estate over the past couple of years. That’s in part thanks to reports that uncovered systemic discrimination in some parts of the U.S. and to protests last year over discriminatory policing policies. The result has been a number of companies in real estate undertaking efforts to improve diversity in the industry.
During her session at Mega Camp Wednesday, Israel indicated that improving diversity requires a concerted effort. She pointed out, for example, that while many white Americans may come from a culture of homeownership, other groups sometimes don’t. And that means they may do things like finding an agent differently. Industry professionals who want to thrive going forward will have to acknowledge and embrace those differences.
“What we want to do,” Israel added, “is reach the broadest audience possible.”