PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Commitment to Realtor Code and Pledge
Tony D'Anzica | February 13, 2023
American philanthropist, humanitarian and civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune once stated: “If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything… that smacks of discrimination or slander.”
This is the duty that each of us is charged with in our daily lives and in our profession.
Our own Realtor Code of Ethics requires that we treat every client, member—every person—equally, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Realtor Pledge, which I recommend each of our members take, embodies and reminds us of our most fundamental Realtor commandments:
• To strive to be honorable and to abide by the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).
• To strive to serve well my community, and through it, my country.
• To abide by the Realtor’s Code of Ethics and to strive to conform my conduct to its aspirational ideals.
• To act honestly in all real estate dealings.
• To protect the individual right of real estate ownership and to widen the opportunity to enjoy it.
• To seek better to represent my clients by building my knowledge and competence.
Can Realtors live by these simple commandments if we neglect to highlight, embrace, and promote diversity among our members, refuse to listen to the challenges of our colleagues and clients, or neglect to understand or appreciate the consequences of the past and present barriers of homeownership for our diverse communities?
As individual human beings we recognize that we are all fundamentally flawed. While HGAR, as an association, cannot offer a redress of grievances for all of humankind’s cruelties and injustices, we absolutely intend to remain at the forefront of ensuring that our members honor and live by our Realtor-commandments both literally and in spirit. That means fighting racism and bias, becoming culturally competent, understanding the disparate impact of our actions, promoting diversity and inclusion, and demanding equal treatment, access, and opportunity for all.
Bishop Desmond Tutu once famously said that “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” At HGAR, we believe this too and I am proud that we have acted decisively to promote these values and recognized that, as a community of 14,000 members, we have the resources, the tools and the motivation to achieve our humanity by working together.
Starting in 2019, HGAR was one of the first Realtor associations to redefine our mission and to begin implementing a new structure that allowed for meaningful dialogue and engagement amongst our leadership and within our entire membership. In 2021, HGAR amended its By-Laws to establish, for the first time, a permanent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Standing Committee. We also created an At-Large Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Standing Committee that is open to ALL HGAR members. We spearheaded an initiative that resulted in the first ever multi-Association DEI Summit in 2022 that brought together hundreds of participants from our entire tri-state region, including Upstate New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. Our second multi-Association DEI Summit is already scheduled for June 5-6, 2023, and planning is underway.
HGAR also hired a DEI Director, one of the first in the nation among Realtor associations. Both HGAR’s staff and Board of Directors underwent extensive training in understanding the concepts embodied by DEI. Our Board also implemented a new Leadership Accelerator Program, created not just to identify and develop new leaders, but to encourage and develop a new cadre of leadership that is more diverse and inclusive than ever. The LAP has already been extraordinarily successful in achieving this goal in just a short period of time.
HGAR has been moving forward systematically and decisively to play our part to create a world where perhaps one day we will no longer contemplate our individual differences, but celebrate each person’s uniqueness. Of course, this is a monumental task that requires not only hard work, perseverance, understanding, collaboration, patience, love and generosity, but also forgiveness, trust and faith.
Martin Luther King Jr. truly believed that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” So, during Black History Month let us all acknowledge and celebrate that we have made progress together, but that more needs to be done. Let us also have the same commitment to peace, justice and non-violence that Dr. King had—but let’s also share his faith that as a society we are indeed bending toward justice.