The subject of diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic for most of 2019, and a FORCE member states that a diverse workforce helps foster “innovative ideas.”

The National Association of Realtors reported in 2018 that the average real estate agent is a 54-year-old female with a bachelor’s degree, and is a homeowner. NAR also reported that 67% of all real estate agents are female. 

Laura Chaney, Broker/Owner of Chaney Realty Inc., said a more diverse workforce is a benefit to the industry.  

“Diversity in the workplace leads to differing thoughts, solutions, and plans. Chaney Realty Inc. practices include generating a more well-rounded understanding of the consumer,” Chaney said. “This helps us contribute to innovative ideas.”

The topic of diversity and inclusion has garnered attention for much of 2019. The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing in October, discussing ways financial institutions, as well as other sectors, can provide avenues for a more diverse and inclusive workforce. 

“Too often organizations place such a heavy emphasis on pipeline development that retention aspects to diversity and inclusion practices are often neglected,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Chair of the Financial Services Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee. 

Beatty added that often, business leaders—more specifically white males—underestimate the challenges that diverse employees face. A study from 2019 shows that women and people of color are “woefully underrepresented” in leadership positions.

Chaney added that, as more women and minorities become homebuyers, the industry should also reflect these changes. 

However, a report by the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center states that the homeownership gap between black and white homeowners has widened to its most substantial level in more than 50 years. 

Chaney recalled the story of a woman she met at church who at the time was living at a homeless shelter and working part-time doing inventory control, counting boxes in the freezer section of a grocery store. Chaney offered the woman a data-entry position. 

I learned that she had many skills that she was sheepish to tell me about herself,” Chaney said.

According to Chaney, the woman eventually got a job working for the county offices but also works for Chaney a few hours each month.  

“She will be a knowledgeable, caring agent,” Chaney said. “It will be fun to see her sell her first home.”

Chaney added that women of color are smart, motivated, and dynamic. 

“It is time for us to see more diversity in this area,” Chaney said. 

In an exclusive interview with MReport, Marcia Davies, COO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said for companies to create an inclusive and diverse environment, they need to commit to being “deliberate” and “intentional.” 

She added that, while businesses can bring people into an organization to seek diversity, if those colleagues are not included in decision-making or given the opportunity to contribute, it will all be for nothing.

“We need to, as leaders, set the tone from the top and make sure that our employee base feels included,” Davies said. “That is only going to happen if you’re intentional.”