By Eboni Killian, 2021 President of Women’s Council of REALTORS® Atlanta Network
Can you believe we are already halfway through 2021? As I begin to reflect, I realize that we are still amid a global pandemic that has lasted over a year and a half and that required our entire industry to pivot and adjust the way we all were accustomed to doing business. We have also been forced to deal with the diversity issues that plague our country.
Those of us who had not yet embraced technology within our real estate business have had to shorten the learning curve and immediately become tech savvy. We’ve also experienced a major shift when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
Technology has quickly emerged, and it is consistently shaping the future of real estate. The pandemic has expedited the need for technology within our industry. Something that would normally happen over an extended period of time has become a necessity just to survive and stay relevant. Not only is technology changing the way real estate agents sell homes, it is also changing the way agents market themselves. This has caused the agent-buyer and agent-seller interactions to change significantly.
Just a little over a year ago today, our nation witnessed and mourned the senseless murder of George Floyd, an African American 46-year-old male who lost his life at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. This incident, like so many others that were all too familiar, reaffirmed once again the harsh truth that racism and bigotry still are very prevalent in our nation today. It also reconfirmed the necessity to create more inclusive and diverse communities that recognize and value people of all walks of life. In the words of Chancellor Gary May of the University of California, Davis, days after the death of George Floyd, “Inclusion, like social justice, doesn’t come easily. It requires a collective effort. It requires each one of us working to make a difference.” It was far time that we turn our allyship into action. And that is just what the real estate industry did.
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has actively promoted their leading with diversity workshops, created diversity and inclusions grants available to local associations, and challenged all REALTOR® members to take the Fairhaven and Implicit Bias training programs.
The Georgia Association of REALTORS® instituted a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force to evaluate and implement a long-term strategic plan to manage, integrate and sustain efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within Georgia REALTORS®.
The Atlanta REALTORS® Association (ARA) formed a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to be a listening body for its members. The council also continually reviews the Association for systemic racism and discrimination. These are some of the issues that hold back and discourage diverse leadership and membership. They also recommend diversity and inclusion opportunities that initiate, foster and ensure equal opportunities throughout the Association.
The Women’s Council of REALTORS® — where many REALTORS®, including past leaders of NAR, start their leadership journey — and several state and local REALTORS® association leaders have made diversity and inclusion a priority. The Women’s Council of REALTORS® is actively recruiting a more diverse membership to cultivate leaders so that we continue to play an active role in leading with diversity and inclusion on the local, state and national levels.
I am a proud member of ARA. I serve on the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council at ARA. I also serve on the Housing Opportunity and Diversity Committee at GAR. I, along with many of my colleagues, am taking a stand on diversity and inclusion. We invite you to join us as we turn allyship into action. When everyone is included, we all win. Being able to listen as well as celebrate that which is both common and different, only then do we become wiser, more inclusive and better as an industry. Atlanta REALTORS® is leading with diversity and inclusion for our industry, as well as our communities.
We have a long road ahead of us. As an industry and a community, we have to start somewhere. When it comes to technology alone, it will never replace an agent. These resources are truly a benefit of convenience that add to the human bond. However, an agent with technology will, in time, replace a real estate agent without technology. When it comes to diversity, we must continue to have the hard conversations, be willing to listen and learn from each other, and demand change.