Realtors are among the initial partners of the Equality of Opportunity Initiative launched in June by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In announcing the nationwide effort to address systemic racism and to advance economic inclusion, more than 500 chambers and associations, including the National Association of Realtors, will focus on four initial issues: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice.
“NAR has spent recent years examining how our 1.4 million members can best lead the fight against discrimination, bigotry and injustice,” said Bob Goldberg, CEO of NAR. “We believe that building a better future in America begins with equal access to housing opportunity. With ongoing residential segregation contributing to many problems in our society, NAR recognizes that this nation cannot achieve true economic equality without first achieving true equality in housing. Our commitment to this cause and to fair housing has only strengthened in response to recent tragedies in America.”
As part of its longstanding mission and purpose to help businesses grow the economy and create jobs, the U.S. Chamber said the Equality of Opportunity Initiative is the latest in a series of activities the Chamber has undertaken to promote a more just and equal society.
“As our nation undertakes a necessary conversation about systemic racism, we will listen thoughtfully and lead solutions to help ensure Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed in the American enterprise system,” said Suzanne P. Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We know what a job means to an individual, to a family and to a community. It means personal dignity, financial security, better health outcomes, opportunities to advance and grow, and hope for the future.”
“Far too often, the opportunity to obtain an education, secure a job, start a business, or provide for your family is determined by the color of your skin. These systemic inequalities hurt individuals, communities, our economy, and our society,” the Chamber states on a website dedicated to the initiative.
Under the Chamber’s leadership, the private sector partners vow to develop and advance data-driven business and policy solutions to bridge opportunity gaps and ensure that Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest lobbying organization in the nation. It represents companies of all sizes across every sector of the economy.
The Equality of Opportunity Agenda devotes a page with proposed solutions for each of the four race-based opportunity gaps. Authors say the inequities in these areas “perpetuate broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth.” Conversations with business, government, academic, and civic leaders helped develop the Agenda.
As part of its effort, NAR began circulating a 50-minute implicit bias training video for its members and association staff in June. Produced in cooperation with the Perception Institute, which provides training to courtrooms, boardrooms, schools, and hospitals, the video provides strategies to override biases to ensure fairness, convey respect, and improve business relationships. The video draws upon recent research to illustrate how the human brain makes instant, automatic associations between stereotypes and particular groups – “associations that can cause people to treat those different from them unfairly.” The scientific evidence further suggests implicit biases persist in spite of people’s good intentions, and often without their conscious awareness.
NAR is also encouraging state and local associations to consider revising their new-member orientations and other mandatory education courses to highlight he delivery of equal services.
“Fair housing, equality and inclusion are among NAR’s most cherished values. Realtors follow a strict code of ethics that not only defines us as professionals, but explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin or sexual orientation,” said Vince Malta, NAR president. “We are committed to leading the way on policies that address racial injustice and build communities where people of every color feel safe to pursue their own American Dream. This training video is a small part of an ongoing education campaign that will position realtors to lead in the fight against racial discrimination.”