A new educational program will give Keller Williams’ agents a diversity certification designed to help them work with a more diverse pool of clients, the company announced on Friday.
The program, Agent of Distinction, includes five modules with names such as “Grow Through Our Differences” and “Inclusive Advertising and Marketing,” according to a statement. The modules are digital and self-paced, and they are meant to give both agents and industry leaders “training, resources, and tools needed to tailor and grow a real estate business to appeal to a wider customer base,” the statement explains.
Keller Williams is currently offering the program to all of its agents, but the company also plans to open Agent of Distinction to all industry members regardless of their brokerage affiliation. That should happen sometime later this year.
The program should ultimately help agents “identify best practices for working with clients from various dimensions of diversity,” “learn about demographic trends affecting real estate” and “locate community organizations to partner with to grow your business,” according to the statement.
Participation in Agent of Distinction requires completion of two diversity, equity and inclusion prerequisite courses — dubbed “Unconscious Bias” and “Color of Real Estate” — which are free and available to any agents regardless of brokerage.
Once the prerequisite courses are completed, certification in the Agents of Distinction program costs $297.
“The residential housing market is becoming more diverse and homeownership in America has an increasingly multicultural future,” Julia Lashay Israel, who leads Keller Williams’ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, said in the statement.
“With Agent of Distinction, our agents have access to the best tools to serve this ever-changing market,” she added. “And it’s all part of our strong commitment that the future of real estate has opportunity and promise for all.”
Diversity has become a growing issue in real estate over the past several years, with various reports indicating discrimination and bias over race remain a serious problem. Companies have deployed a variety of strategies to address the issue. In 2021 for example, Keller Williams hired Israel to lead the company’s diversity efforts. Several real estate portals have also ditched crime statistics in an effort to avoid stigmatizing neighborhoods, and some leaders such as Redfin’s Glenn Kelman have campaigned against practices that they say are discriminatory, such as pocket listings.
In Thursday’s statement, Carl Liebert, CEO of Keller Williams’ parent company kwx, argued that “we unleash unlimited potential when we lean into equity and inclusion.”
“We’re excited to announce Agent of Distinction,” Liebert added, “our new business certification that draws upon the power of diversity to fuel business growth and innovation.”