Seven Ways to Build Equity in Your Community in Honor of MLK Day
Although 53 years have passed since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., the legacy left behind by the minister, activist, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient continues to inspire and empower people to choose light and fight for a more inclusive future. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” King writes in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
While progress has been made, more work remains to ensure race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other personal attributes bear no weight on one’s ability to achieve their dreams. By definition, equity means fairness within processes and systems and the removal of barriers to participation. Keller Williams agents have already committed to working toward a more inclusive future, by creating the organization’s Social Equity Task Force – a league of associates tasked with creating long-range strategies to uproot racial disparities within Keller Williams.
Building equity is a matter of meeting communities where they are at, and allocating resources in a way that creates equal outcomes for everyone. In honor of Dr. King’s legacy, here are seven things you can do to create equity within your community.
Related reading: Equity: Julia Lashay Israel’s Five Building Blocks to Creating Opportunities for All
Equity Through Education
Before jumping into action items, it is important to educate yourself on the topic and understand the internal beliefs – many of them unconscious – that may be limiting your understanding of equity. “You first have to be willing to accept people’s differences, understand cultural differences, and be willing to incorporate those differences into your business,” kwx head of inclusion and belonging Julia Lashay Israel offers. However, Keller Williams offers multiple training opportunities that can help agents build more equitable businesses and communities.
1. Enroll in ‘The Color of Real Estate’ Course.
This course takes an in-depth look at the history of the land today’s real estate agents are tasked with selling and the government practices that affect the homeownership gap still present. You will also learn the basics of implementing diverse business strategies, and how to detect your unconscious biases, which could be costing you business; or worse; your license.
2. Discover Your Unconscious Biases.
The “Unconscious Bias” course poses some tough questions, but ones that will help you become aware of your behaviors and empower you to be more intentional about your actions. “Why do we think what we think? What is bias?” are just two of the questions that will be explored as you start learning how the brain unconsciously produces bias and understand how this bias may affect business.
Equity Through Action
Building a more equitable business means you have to become involved in your community, and expand your bubble in order to see it from multiple vantage points. This process does not have to be intimidating. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to discover new perspectives and build incredible relationships that will help you see your community through fresh eyes. “People do business with people they know, like, and trust,” Israel says. The following five spaces are a great start to help you discover new clients, fellow agents, and potential business partners in an equitable manner.
3. Become Involved with Industry Organizations.
Not only do you have the opportunity to help shape the industry as a whole, but you can also build relationships with fellow agents once you do. One additional benefit, however, is having a better understanding of your clients and their needs. Georgia agent Raquel Lavender joined AREAA, the Asian Real Estate Association of America … “Not because I’m Asian, but because I work with Asian clients, and I think it’s important for me to understand their needs and also to align myself with professionals in the industry that can help me better serve these clients.”
There are plenty of organizations to consider joining, including the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR), the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.
4. Embrace Diversity Within Your Business.
To better serve your clients of various backgrounds, make sure you have consistent policies and procedures that allow you to treat every customer and client in the same manner. On the agent side, ensure you are building a team with different backgrounds, experiences, and skills, which will allow you to speak to broader audiences. And solo agents, do not fret. You can build the same environment by taking a look at your network – everyone from lenders to home inspectors – and ensuring there is a difference in perspectives among them.
Related reading: Building Equity and Doing Good: An Agent’s Quick Guide
5. Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses.
Take inventory of the local businesses you’re supporting within the community, and ensure that you’re interacting with businesses that are representative of your entire surrounding community. Whether you are supporting a local caterer by purchasing from them, or highlighting a business for your network to try out as part of your social media strategy for the month, there are plenty of ways to provide exposure for minority-owned businesses that could change the trajectory of their incoming opportunities.
6. Rethink Your Charitable Contributions.
As with the businesses you support, take inventory of the causes you stand behind, and ask yourself what other communities you may have the opportunity to help. And remember – charity does not have to simply be monetary. Donating your time is equally valuable. What are some organizations that could benefit from your giving spirit right now? What are some projects that could have a valuable impact on RED Day?
7. Provide Opportunities in Your Community.
As agents, you have the opportunity to help others change the course of their lives, whether it be by helping others break into the industry, or educating them on purchasing their first home. Share the opportunities available through the Keller Williams School of Real Estate (KSCORE). For home buyers, create a home buying seminar that takes into account all the important background you have learned through the Color of Real Estate and Unconscious Bias courses.
Read more: Agents of Change: How to Help Keep the Dream of Homeownership Alive
How Are You Creating Equity?
What are some practices you’ve implemented within your business and community in an effort to be more equitable? Let us know in the comments section.