By Stacey Moncrieff, Editor in Chief, REALTOR® Magazine
I’ve been attending the Equal Opportunity/Cultural Diversity Forum at NAR meetings for years, and it’s striking to me the level of energy and vision that group’s volunteer leaders and staff are bringing to the table today.
Granted, there’s some pride at work: In recent years, the forum has teamed up with members and staff representing REALTOR® Magazine’s Young Professionals Network (YPN). That organization was started — and has been nurtured — by some of the visionary editors at our magazine to build young real estate professionals’ affinity for the publication and the association. Today, YPN has a full-time manager and has spawned more than 80 chapters at local and state REALTOR® associations around the country.
The forum’s leaders — this year’s chair is Sandra Butler of Sibcy Cline Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the vice chair is Diana Sutherland, GRI, of RE/MAX at the Lake in Laurie, Mo. — recognize that young real estate professionals are part of the most diverse generation in America’s history. By engaging this group, they’re helping to foster diversity in the profession.
That’s important for a number of reasons: A real estate association that reflects the ethnic and racial makeup of the country will be more in tune with consumers; wield greater influence in the public policy arena; and help raise awareness in minority communities about the advantages and responsibilities of real property ownership.
This year’s forum was packed to the gills. Participants broke into groups to talk about strategies for attracting and developing leadership potential among young people; minorities; and gay, lesbian, and transgender communities. I was impressed with the efforts at inclusiveness being made around the country. I sat in on one group, and among the ideas I heard:
- Actively identify potential young and minority leaders and have board members personally invite them to participate in committees.
- Enable participation among less-experienced members by funding scholarships to state, regional, and national meetings.
- Set up a mentoring program that teams young and minority members with association directors.
- Participate in the meetings of primarily minority organizations, such as the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers — and encourage their members to become involved in the REALTOR® organization.
Most people in my group were having some success at engaging young and minority members, but some said they felt as if they were blowing in the wind. How do you think your REALTOR® association is doing in the areas of generational, cultural, and ethnic diversity? What more could be done?
The forum’s tenor made it clear to me that, for NAR today, opening the doors to new, more diverse leadership is serious business.