When the Houston Association of Realtors announced that it was planning to swap the term “master bedroom” with “primary bedroom,” artist John Legend had a crucial piece of advice for realtors–any professionals, really–about making impactful change without striking the wrong chord.
Real problem: realtors don't show black people all the properties they qualify for. Fake problem: calling the master bedroom the master bedroom. Fix the real problem, realtors. https://t.co/Qq7yQ8Gb3g— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 27, 2020
To be sure, making sweeping changes is a lot harder than finding and replacing offensive speech or fixtures. As Legend pointed out, the Houston association’s quick change is just the start of what diversity and inclusion look like. The real estate industry can and should do more–and that’s likely true for your own company, too.
How do you handle racism in your company? By pretending it doesn’t exist? By trying to hide your past? By proclaiming Black Lives Matter on your webpage?
Or do you create real change within your company?
- Fire managers, who ask recruiters to send only “certain” candidates?
- Have a dress code that allows for natural hair?
- Recruit from a wide variety of colleges and universities?
- Focus your charity donations on organizations that help minority children receive a quality education?
- Provide clear and fair feedback to everyone, so they can work to succeed?
- Listen to what your employees say?
- Investigate every complaint of discrimination?
- Make sure your compensation is fair across the board?
Making changes to outward-facing communications is fine and may make people feel like they’re doing something quickly, but real change takes effort and time. If you’re not simultaneously looking inward to address issues within your business or staffing strategy, marketing gestures aren’t just hollow, they’re irresponsibly misleading. Make sure your business doesn’t just make changes that appear good to others. For every outward-facing gesture, your company makes, ensure that you’re also looking inward.