Will the Supreme Court Decision Affect DEI? I Hope So!

Will the Supreme Court Decision Affect DEI? I Hope So!

Shortly after the Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action in higher education, a national news outlet posted an article stating that as a result some experts believe DEI programs in corporate America could crumble. It said corporate America could be held liable for DEI programs and policies.

Upon reading further, it referred to companies that prioritize race. It also said the companies may get rid of their DEI departments because “The DEI philosophy is almost directly in contradiction with the law.” Wait!! What??? That is the complete mischaracterization of what DEI is about. Diversity equity, and inclusion has nothing to do with filling quotas and putting unqualified people in positions. It’s about removing the systems that create a narrow pool of people (such as legacy admission policies do), actively seeking out diversity in all aspects (not just race) and creating an environment, where they are welcomed and can thrive.

There are business cases and moral cases for DEI principles. It should come as no surprise that the output of a diverse group can and will be more robust than a homogeneous group. In our industry, we serve diverse clients and communities and protections are in place under fair housing laws. These laws have not been enough to stop real estate agents from engaging in steering and unequal treatment.

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion could be the foundation on which fair housing rests. Valuing and respecting people who are similar and different from you is a start. Building relationships and getting to know them is even better.

We see in Richard Rothstein’s book “The Color of Law,” the devastating ways that people have been denied the opportunity to create generational wealth that has been afforded to others. They have often been affected by discriminatory laws, policies, and actions. Dismantling those systems requires looking at them very carefully to uncover bias or disparate impact.

I was hoping that the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action in higher education would have the opposite effect from the opinion of the writer of that national news article. I was, or should I say, I am hoping that it elevates the value of DEI programs. Get to the underlying cause and deal with it at the human level.

At the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, we have been working for the past few years to make the association more diverse and inclusive. Some things may be visible to you and some may not be. Those engaged in supporting the process might feel things happen more slowly than we would like. HGAR’s DEI initiatives have included:

• An educational and explorative regional DEI Summit to engage our industry.

• A DEI Demographic Survey to know who our membership represents.

• DEI educational articles in Real Estate In-Depth written by members of the DEI Steering Committee.

• The establishment of two DEI-centric CE Courses; Implicit Bias & Cultural Competency.

• HGAR staff training and engagement.

• DEI integration in HGAR’s leadership programs.

• Recognition for DEI Champions across the association.

So, are DEI programs going to crumble? No. They will help us serve our members and the public better. They will help us find and develop the best leaders to take us into the future. They will help us grow as individuals and as an industry. As defenders of home ownership, we have a duty to our profession to be the best we can as we help people navigate through a part of their lives that is so critical to their families and be afforded the ability to build wealth.

Katheryn DeClerck is a member of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors DEI Steering Committee.

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