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Washington REALTORS® is dedicated to the work of equity and inclusion. Our association is an acknowledged national leader in developing programs and policies to increase access to homeownership for communities of color. Like many states, Washington must reconcile a history of unfair housing practices, including redlining and unfair lending practices that left many people of color unable to access the dream of homeownership. We remain committed to this work, we acknowledge that it is ongoing, and we invite accountability and discussion to help us carry out this work more thoughtfully and effectively.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION FAQS

The short answer is that the composition of our membership should be reflective of the composition of the communities that we serve. The same can be said of brokerages in relation to the community. The longer answer goes to the “why” of these statements. To truly serve our clients to the best of our abilities, we need to have an understanding of our diverse communities’ characteristics and cultures. To assume that there are not differences, or that the differences do not matter, is to assume that we all come from similar backgrounds, have had similar experiences and have been afforded similar opportunities. This is simply not the case. People of color and members of the LGBTQ community face challenges that the rest of us do not. It is an irrefutable fact. To ignore that fact is to discount and disrespect their experiences, as well as to fail in our service to them. Giving members of our diverse communities a voice in our organizations can help us to address areas where our industry is struggling to meet the needs of these clients, as well as our agents. As REALTORS®, we pledge “to protect the individual right of real estate ownership and widen the opportunity to enjoy it.” We cannot do that if we are unaware of what the barriers to real estate ownership are for our diverse communities, and we cannot widen the opportunity if we cannot break down these barriers. We cannot have equity of opportunity if we do not have diversity in our membership and include those diverse voices in our conversations around the table.

RESPA deals with mortgage disclosure statements and ensuring that all borrowers know the terms of their mortgages and their rights as consumers. It has little to do with DEI issues relating to the real estate industry.

This is a popular, widespread misconception. Systemic discrimination/racism and implicit bias are present everywhere. People assume that it doesn’t exist because they don’t see it or hear about it, nor are they subjected to it. To discount its existence is to discount the experiences of the people subjected to it regularly. Much of this systemic discrimination is historically rooted in housing discrimination (redlining, white flight/blockbusting) that was perpetuated by FHA and the REALTOR® association, which is why it is so important for WR to be involved in DEI work in our state.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not political ideas, they are social justice issues. The politicization of diversity and racial justice has done much to hamper the efforts toward racial equity. Making it a “red” or “blue” issue rather than a “people” or “justice” issue is further dividing us and making the work more complicated. When we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are discussing human rights, not politics.

The intention of WR is not to lecture, but to bring awareness and educate. We all have implicit biases, and they are often reflected in how we speak to or about others. A lack of awareness about these biases can result in us saying something that is disrespectful to a person of color, women, a member of the LGBTQ community, members of certain religions, the disabled, and so on. Implicit bias “refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.” The very definition implies that we are not aware of these biases, so it follows that we would not be aware of their effects on others. Educating ourselves on how to identify our individual biases and negate them so that we speak respectfully to diverse groups should not be construed as something negative. It is all about being respectful to one another on a human level, which allows us to connect with each other on a personal and professional level.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not part of a social movement. They are, at their core, about respecting every individual and ensuring that every individual has equitable representation and opportunities. Real estate transactions occur between people and are facilitated by people. Educating our membership about how to communicate respectfully with each other and our clients is part of the business of the real estate transaction. Ensuring that all individuals have equitable opportunities in their pursuit of homeownership is part of the real estate transaction. Having representation from our diverse communities on our boards and in our brokerages is part of the real estate transaction. If we are serious about fulfilling our pledge and living up to our ideals, then we cannot, as an association or organization, separate DEI from the real estate transaction.

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