Schick comes to this new role with more than 27 years of experience as a leader working with real estate agents.
The Concept of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Why are people so apprehensive about breaking the social norms they've established? Why do we tend to assume the worst about others? And why do we sometimes align ourselves with one group against another?
The concept of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) originates from within and extends outward. It has been three years since DEI gained widespread attention, with many companies committing to play their part in fostering unity among people of different races, backgrounds, genders, religions and beliefs. However, as time has passed, our noble intentions seem to have transformed into a mere performance, sometimes catering to marginalized groups without truly celebrating meaningful actions.
In the real estate industry, some initially resisted the introduction of DEI through our Association, deeming it unnecessary. But in a world clamoring for change, how can we not engage in introspection? How can we continue to interact with others daily while holding onto tribal mentalities and closed-minded attitudes?
It is crucial to reflect on our interactions with colleagues who may not share our appearance, location or ideas. Are we allowing our own biases to influence our behavior? This pattern often manifests in meetings and social gatherings, where we tend to follow popular votes and opinions without considering the feelings and perspectives of those outside the majority. In our private moments, do we contemplate the impact of our actions on others? Tribal behavior and cliques undermine our shared objective of creating an inclusive space for everyone.
I grew up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and attended school in a different neighborhood; the area was primarily Jewish and Italian. This would be my first time experiencing tribal behavior from both sides of the equation. My blackness was never an issue. I never realized the implications of what my blackness represented until that moment. I come from a diverse family. There seemed to be a belief that we could receive an education in other neighborhoods but not truly interact. While on the other side, it was perceived as an injustice to the community when we, the students, were transported in for 6 ½ to 7 hours and then escorted back home by bus before sundown.
In my personal experience, I was raised to embrace diversity, so my best friend didn't resemble me; she was Jewish, and her parents became close friends with mine. Our connection caused us to face isolation from other kids who couldn't understand our friendship. However, we never allowed their prejudices to break our bond. This leads to a fundamental question: Why? Why are people so apprehensive about breaking the social norms they've established? Why do we tend to assume the worst about others? And why do we sometimes align ourselves with one group against another?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion must begin within each of us. Diversity means recognizing that we are stronger when every voice is heard at the table. Equity enables us to provide every individual with a fair and impartial opportunity. Lastly, Inclusion asserts that we all possess an inherent right to belong.
We all have significant work to do, both collectively as proponents of DEI initiatives and as individuals committed to these principles.
Cheryl Williams serves as the 2024 Chair of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee.