National Association of Realtors President Tracy Kasper released the 5-minute video on Thursday outlining the organization’s plan to address sexual misconduct charges and rebuild broken trust.
More than a week after former National Association of Realtors President Kenny Parcell’s resignation and the organization’s curveball decision to keep embattled CEO Bob Goldberg at the helm, newly-minted NAR President Tracy Kasper published a video midday Thursday acknowledging growing Realtor dissent and offered a small peek into the association’s plan to rebuild trust among its 1.56 million members.
“It’s upsetting to hear that some members and staff have not felt safe or respected. I want you to know I hear you,” she said in the five-minute video. “The Leadership Team and Executive Committee hears you. We must figure out what NAR needs to do to make sure every member and every association staff person always feels respected and valued.”
Kasper said the association has hired outside experts to evaluate its current sexual harassment policies and reporting system, and revealed they’ve chosen organizational culture expert Shaun Harper to spearhead the Culture Presidential Advisory Group, which is aimed at improving the relationship between NAR leadership, staff and members.
Harper is a renowned professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and Marshall School of Business. Harper is known for his leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and is the founder and executive director of USC’s Race and Equity Center.
“Members, we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “Your Executive Committee and Leadership Team feel an incredible sense of importance and urgency around this, and we are moving quickly. We also want to do this right. We have to listen better. We have to take meaningful action. We have to do better by our members and our staff. Look for us to share timely updates as we figure these things out.”
Kasper’s statement comes on the heels of intensifying dissent as Realtors lambast NAR for skirting responsibility and failing to offer an outright apology for a culture rife with discrimination, misogyny and longstanding misconduct issues.
Members have canceled their NAR memberships and bombarded their local and state associations with letters and phone calls. There’s also a petition to force Goldberg’s early retirement alongside the firing of NAR Chief Legal Officer Katie Johnson and NAR’s head of human resources, Donna Gland, who have come under fire for their alleged mismanagement of victims’ claims.
Realtors have also asked the association to release Janelle Brevard from the non-disclosure agreement that’s part of her $107,000 settlement for wrongful termination after she ended a consensual relationship with Parcell. Realtors also want the other women who reportedly received settlements to be released from any NDAs they may have signed.
Read Kasper’s full statement below:
I have both a heavy heart and one of hope as we grapple with a very difficult situation. The Leadership Team and Executive Committee met last week regarding recent reports of sexual harassment and other misconduct that led to the resignation of our last president. I want to take a moment to talk with you about this and answer some questions you may have.
Let me start by acknowledging the members and staff who are hurting right now. Their trust has been broken. It’s upsetting to hear that some members and staff have not felt safe or respected. I want you to know I hear you. The Leadership Team and Executive Committee hears you. We must figure out what NAR needs to do to make sure every member and every association staff person always feel respected and valued.
One of the questions we’re hearing is, how did this happen? I can promise you going forward we will do – and be – better. First, we are engaging outside experts to assess the way reports of misconduct are investigated and resolved. While NAR investigates every complaint received, sometimes with the assistance of outside legal counsel, we will evaluate that process and those outcomes. We expect there will be recommendations to implement new and better safeguards and procedures. Second, we will evaluate the way leaders are selected, the power and control they have, and how they interact with the association staff professionals.
Another question we are getting is, even if the conduct wasn’t unlawful, why didn’t you do more to stop it? I can tell you that within the past year, NAR did implement a number of new policies to address the conduct and behaviors of volunteer leaders. If you go to the NAR website at “About NAR” and “our commitment,” you’ll find more details about those policies. But what we are seeing and experiencing shows us that those new policies and practices still are not enough.
There is much more work to be done. And it’s like our real estate transactions. And for those of you who haven’t met me, I am a broker/owner and I list and sell real estate every day. As we all know, we learn things right in the middle of the transaction that we didn’t anticipate and know we have to fix. We will do exactly that. And just like we do in those transactions, we will get guidance and recommendations from outside experts, and we will get input from members and staff.
As has been reported, we are employing a new Culture PAG. This effort is still evolving but will include contributions from NAR members, state and local association executives, as well as NAR staff members. We are all important collaborators and stakeholders in this mission to protect and promote property rights, fair housing, affordable and accessible housing and more.
We also need to be aligned on how we engage and support each other. I am also pleased to share that we have engaged the expertise of renowned organizational culture expert, Shaun Harper, to guide the Culture PAG toward recommendations for a better future.
Members, we have a lot of work to do. Your Executive Committee and Leadership Team feel an incredible sense of importance and urgency around this, and we are moving quickly. We also want to do this right. We have to listen better. We have to take meaningful action. We have to do better by our members and our staff. Look for us to share timely updates as we figure these things out.
There is one goal, but certainly not just one path to get there. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us. We want to hear them. Together, we can effect the necessary changes we need to make to move forward.
Please know that as hard as this moment is, I still very much have faith in this organization. There are so many people who care. So many people who want to do the right thing. You have the unwavering commitment of the Executive Committee, the Leadership Team and me to get this right. Because no one should feel anything less than heard, empowered and able to do their work in an environment where they feel safe and respected. And I need each and every member beside us on this. Each and every member treating each other and every member of staff with dignity and respect.