Real estate leadership is in hot water: The Download

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Each week on The Download, Inman’s Christy Murdock takes a deeper look at the top-read stories of the week to give you what you’ll need to meet Monday head-on. This week: What the hell is going on in real estate leadership?

It seems that the past year or so has been rife with questions and accusations aimed at uncovering problematic ethical, professional and, in some cases, criminal behavior among the upper echelons of industry and brokerage leadership.

  • Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, eXp Realty and others are facing a new lawsuit alleging they discriminated against lower-income renters in New Jersey.
  • The CEO of multiple Keller Williams offices filed a lawsuit against the franchisor, co-founder Gary Keller, and former CEO John Davis, accusing the latter of sexual misconduct and abuse.
  • The Residential Real Estate Council removed President Pam Ruggeroli from her position amid allegations that Ruggeroli violated a directive concerning her romantic partner of 12 years, Jeano Savard.
  • Two board members of Greater Tampa Realtors have resigned their posts following a conflict-of-interest investigation involving the association’s president and its CEO — and a third is considering resigning.
  • Questions were raised about NAR’s vetting of political candidates who support openly discriminatory legislation, a potential violation of Article 10 of the Realtor Code of Ethics.

Then, this week, came the latest and this week’s most-read story at Inman:

Suit accuses NAR and its president of sexual, racial discrimination by Jim Dalrymple II

A new lawsuit accuses the National Association of Realtors of racial and sexual discrimination, alleging that President Kenny Parcell harassed female employees — one of whom claims she was fired after breaking off a relationship with him.

Janelle Brevard and her attorneys filed the suit Tuesday in federal court. Brevard served as NAR’s chief storyteller from August 2019 until September 2022, and according to the suit’s complaint never had any performance or disciplinary issues while at the trade organization. Nevertheless, the complaint alleges that Brevard was harassed and ultimately fired after breaking off a relationship with Parcell and speaking to lawyers. She was also singled out, the complaint argues, because she was Black.

Parcell’s name is mentioned repeatedly throughout the complaint, but only NAR is listed as an actual defendant in the suit.

Aren’t you tired? When you see a new scandal or a new accounting of discriminatory behavior — whether subtle microaggressions or overt policy decisions — does it make you feel like giving up?

The natural response in times like these is to throw up your hands and say, “What the hell is wrong with these people?” I’d argue that’s exactly the opposite of the impulse these stories should inspire. Instead, throw your hat into the ring for a leadership position of your own.

Handing over control of real estates’ organizations and businesses to the worst instincts of those in leadership isn’t an answer to anything. Instead, it’s time for everyone who’s tired to take on new responsibilities.

If you love the industry but are frustrated with the lapses in leadership you’re seeing, do better. Don’t let other people navigate for you; you’re the captain, now.

You know that old saying, “I’d rather wear out than rust out?” That’s never been more apt. Rather than sitting back and shaking your head at the problems you see, today we’re encouraging you to get active and be the change you wish to see.

Even before the latest scandalous allegations broke this week, we were urging you to get busy getting into leadership locally, regionally and nationally. Here are this week’s Calls to Action, tailor-made for you.

Not liking what you see in leadership? 10 ways to get involved

As the newest NAR lawsuit shows, the industry needs leaders. Why not you? The decisions that are made every day — on committees, boards, city councils and planning commissions — impact the future of our industry and our communities. Find out how to volunteer, mentor and more, and learn where to go to get started.

Raise your hand, please! Here’s how to get involved at Inman

There’s a leadership gap in content creation and publication, writes Senior Editor, and the head of Inman’s contributor program, Dani Vanderboegh. It means that the perspectives we see are shaped by thought leaders who are predominately straight, white and male. Vandeboegh shares why it’s so important to raise your voice, contribute to the industry (in some form) and step up.

EXTRA: ‘Together we’ — How women in real estate are working to thrive

The anti-LGBTQ+ movement IS a real estate issue. Here’s why

Erin Morrison, 2023 president of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and proud Texas Realtor, is afraid. And so are some of your clients. Things have gotten so bad that Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, issued a travel advisory cautioning members of the community against relocating or traveling to Florida. At the same time, Texas continues its onslaught of laws openly discriminating against people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Here’s why Morrison says now is the time to be concerned.

WATCH: Taking action with ‘Color of Law’ author Richard Rothstein

Dr. Lee Davenport has spent her career speaking out and advocating for a higher level of understanding and engagement when it comes to equity and fair housing issues. Don’t miss this conversation with the person who literally wrote the book on these issues, Richard Rothstein, and the co-author of his latest book, Just Action, Leah Rothstein. If you feel like the problems are too big and intractable, you’ll be inspired to take action in your corner of the real estate world.

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