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Housing impacts every part of a person’s life. Where they work, where they go to school, who they know, what resources they have access to, etc. As we recognize June as Pride Month, we continue conversations of diversity, equity and inclusion within our businesses and personal lives. Diversity matters in real estate. By looking closer at the role it plays, we can see how its influence can make a positive difference.

“The NAR code of ethics is the foundation of what REALTORS® do,” says Julie Nelson, Austin real estate agent, author and speaker. “We have all pledged to follow that code of ethics. Our job is to protect our clients’ best interests in their fiduciary and not discriminate based on any other protected classes.”

Although The Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination in home-buying and renting, it does not include protections for gender and sexual orientation. The Equality Act, which is in the process of becoming a law, aims to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

When diversity is prioritized and woven into real estate practices, it not only improves everyone’s business but creates a lasting impact in the community.

Fact: Diversity and Inclusion Improves Business

Diversity and inclusion makes dollars and cents.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte in 2017, “Organizations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets and three times as likely to be high performing. And companies are six times more likely to be innovative and agile and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.”

Mike Vein, eXp World Holdings’ executive vice president of people, has overseen deliberate changes in the company such as the implementation of unconscious bias training and the creation of in-company affinity groups, which echo Deloitte’s findings.

“Diversity and inclusion really generates quite a bit of difference in ideas. It helps us expand our horizons,” Vein said.

Additionally, a study by Cloverpop, “Analyzed around 600 business decisions made by 200 teams, across a range of companies. Researchers found that when diverse teams (of three or more people) made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time. Diverse teams were also shown to make decisions faster than individual workers, and benefited from a 60% improvement on decision making.”

Real estate is a business of relationships, people and connections. By investing time, resources and education into people, equipping them with more awareness and personal belonging, organizations can unlock a wider range of potential.

Real Estate Agents Can Impact Their Communities

Real estate agents are at the forefront of fair housing. When it comes to diversity and equity, things can often be more intersectional and ambiguous than they appear at first glance. Fee Gentry, who is on the board of directors at eXp World Holdings, ONE eXp chair and founder of Black eXp Network, calls for innovation as well as inclusion in the real estate industry.

“Historically, real estate is one of the biggest indicators of success, wealth, stabilization of families and growth in the U.S. and around the world,” says Gentry. “Without it, people become unsettled.”

Agents can make an actionable difference by establishing their own commitment to cultural competency, educating themselves and being advocates for fair housing in their communities. By working with different community organizations and collaborating with different colleagues, efforts can be felt exponentially.

Most importantly, real estate professionals must recognize that it’s not about what they can’t do, but what they can.

“We may not change the hearts and minds of everybody, right in this space,” Gentry says, “But we are here to provide fair housing and economic opportunity.”

Kerry Madden is a product marketer at eXp Realty. Learn more about eXp’s diversity and inclusion initiative, ONE eXp and read about eXp Pride Network leaders, Melissa Hudson, Julie Nelson, Eric Miller and Sherry Swift.