April 20, 2018

Strength in Diversity

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Strength in Diversity

Our industry has made real progress in helping to bring equal opportunity to more Americans. I’m talking not about our work to increase minority homeownership but about our drive to bring more minorities into the business. Today, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® reflects the diversity of our country better than at any time in our history.

For many years, minority membership in NAR hovered in the single digits. But five or six years ago, we began to see more minorities embrace the opportunities available in real estate. Today 12 percent of our 1.2 million members are minorities. And that percentage is growing; 25 percent of new members come from the minority ranks.

The upswing has come partly as a result of our “At Home With Diversity” certification program, introduced in 1998. The course teaches participants how to reach out to a multicultural client base and how to recruit a more diverse sales force.

There are many wonderful minority recruitment efforts going on at the state and local level, too. Since 1986, the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® has had a Multicultural Network of Real Estate Professionals. Minneapolis also has a program in which minorities can apply for dues assistance in their first year in the business, removing one barrier to entry. In Maryland, association leaders have used good old word of mouth to recruit minorities for the Maryland Association of REALTORS® Leadership Academy. Efforts such as these broaden our member base, which broadens our customer base, too.

Minorities are attracted to NAR for all the usual reasons - member benefits, political representation, the Code of Ethics. But minorities often have unique needs, too. They may lack exposure to the business, or they may have a language barrier. That’s why I see a lot of positives in the growth of ethnic real estate associations, such as the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, founded in 1948, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, founded in 1999, and the Asian Real Estate Association of America, founded in 2003. These organizations add to the vibrancy of our industry, providing expertise on minority markets, languages, and cultural issues.

When they align with NAR on public policy issues, they can also add weight to NAR’s positions.

Membership in minority organizations doesn’t represent an either/or choice; most members in these groups are also REALTORS® — and their leaders often seek leadership roles within NAR. Take Alexander Chaparro, newly elected to the board of NAHREP and president of the NAHREP Chicago chapter. Chaparro is also treasurer of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and a member of NAR’s Conventional Finance and Lending Committee. Leaders like Chaparro are role models, showing the way for new minority entrants to the business.

If you’re a minority or if multicultural sales are a part of your business, I encourage you to look for local chapters of these organizations and to attend events, such as NAHREP’s Hispanic Marketing Conference in New York City, Oct. 14-17.

I urge you also to be an ambassador for the REALTOR® organization. Invite leaders from minority groups to your local association, and talk about what NAR membership means to you. In the process, you’ll help ensure our industry remains strong, dynamic, and diverse.

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