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Diversity, Inclusion, and Real Estate: Moving Forward as a Community

TRREB’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force aims to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion for TRREB Members and the experiences of their clients when buying and selling properties. In a recent episode of the Ready to Real Estate podcast , TRREB Past President Lisa Patel met with Task Force members Justin Bock, Wasim Jarrah, Charlene Williams, and Chair Kate Young to discuss the importance of continued diversity and inclusion efforts in light of some of the problems they’ve witnessed in the real estate community – as well as the wider world – and potential ways forward for a better future.

What do we mean when we say the words “diversity and inclusion” (D&I)?

While there’s a number of differences people can have from each other – race, age, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, and more – diversity allows us to explore these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing way, says Wasim. Inclusion makes it a given that all of these different backgrounds and identities have a seat at the table. Charlene adds that you can’t have strong D&I without equally strong leadership: someone who is empathetic, understanding, and inclusive.

Why is D&I so important to get right in real estate?

It’s no wonder the City of Toronto’s motto is “diversity is our strength”: in Toronto and the surrounding area, we have the unique privilege of being home to so many different kinds of people. It also means an equal responsibility to make sure people are not discriminated against on any grounds. A large amount of the discrimination seen by the Task Force is in leasing: discrimination against rental applicants based on race or other prejudices, such as those against older tenants or people from the LGBTQ+ community.

But, that doesn’t mean buying and selling isn’t without its own share of challenges. Wasim recalls a time when house sellers, through their real estate agent, had chosen not to proceed with an offer, because they were concerned about what the neighbours would say about a potential buyer’s race. All of the above examples are deeply unjust, and REALTORS® need to be empowered to call out discrimination when they see it.

What are some ways to make the real estate profession more inclusive?

Justin calls that empowerment to speak out the “tools in your toolkit” – the ways for REALTORS® to have difficult discussions with their landlords or seller clients. It’s up to REALTORS® as ambassadors and professionals to say “this is wrong” and why: people need housing and can’t be barred from it due to discrimination. Using the language provided by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and making it available to prospective tenants and buyers is also helpful; see the OHRC’s Policy on human rights and rental housing  as an example.

You can’t make progress without real consequences. It’s not enough to say something is wrong; people should know better and it’s only by correcting and, in certain cases, applying punitive measures to discriminatory practices, that things will change.

Thanks to the hard work of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, TRREB has embarked on research with Ryerson University, surveying real estate agents on practices in the profession. Keep an eye on TRREB Wire  for more information, and make sure to catch the rest of the episode  for more insights on D&I from the panel of guests.

The post Diversity, Inclusion, and Real Estate: Moving Forward as a Community appeared first on TRREB Wire .

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