This is the tenth episode in our new video series covering Implicit Bias principles, and provides a sneak peek into our new DRE-approved continuing education (CE)  requirements that apply to real estate agents and brokers with licenses expiring on or after January 1, 2023.

This episode covers positive practices to combat bias in hiring and marketing. The prior episode focused on fighting discrimination in the context of disability status and a tenant’s source of income.

Inclusive advertising

To make a living in real estate, it’s always best to appeal the widest audience – cast a wide net. This means real estate marketing needs to speak to everyone. Seeking to appeal to only a certain type of demographic, even with the best of intentions, will leave out opportunities to work with everyone else.

Worse, a real estate advertisement that indicates a bias against or preference for particular race, color, sex, sexual orientation, handicap, familial status or national origin is considered a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA). Even when a real estate professional doesn’t mean to discriminate, problematic wording, phrases or images can alienate clients. Not only is this simply bad for business, it may also welcome a discrimination lawsuit.

The best way to avoid discriminatory advertisements is to take an active approach to being inclusive.

For example, advertisements that use single-gender pronouns (he or she) unnecessarily exclude half of all readers from a broker’s potential client base and tend to incite protests. For more inclusive advertising, brokers do not need to clutter ads with multiple gender pronouns and titles — or clarify their intention to address all genders. Rather, speaking in the second person (you) or using the third person (they) covers all bases.

Simplicity is the best approach. Always avoid salutations that isolate a specific gender, such as “sir” or “madam,” and instead opt for generic terms like “homeowner.” Alternatively, drop titles altogether. The gender or gender identity of the recipient is not pertinent to your marketing efforts. Using the more inclusive pronoun “they” keeps it simple, while avoiding gender assumptions about the audience and reaching more clients.

To be inclusive, it’s also helpful to create advertising and other transaction-related content in multiple languages.

Over one-in-four California residents were born in another country. For perspective, the national average for foreign-born residents is just one-in-eight. Three-quarters of this population is documented or U.S. citizens. Half of California’s migrant population is from Latin America and 39% are from Asia. [Public Policy Institute of California. Immigrants in California (2019)]

With such a diverse population, creating content in languages that are most common in each particular community is reasonable and good practice. Not just one or the other – both.

Hire and work with a diverse workforce

When seeking to serve a diverse community of clients and combat implicit bias before it occurs, the best thing a broker can do is hire and work with a diverse community of agents and other professionals.

For example, when advertising for an available position, employers proactively include an Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) statement. The EOE statement is a recognition that bias often happens during the employment process, but the employer’s EOE is a step toward countering that bias by promoting a diverse applicant pool.

The EOE statement includes the employer’s commitment to hiring a diverse and inclusive workforce. For example: XYZ Brokerage is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

No longer than a brief paragraph, EOE statements make it clear that the employer wishes to employ a workforce representative of the full range of society. The broker may wish to elaborate to show their earnest wish to employ a diverse workforce, outlining their willingness to provide reasonable accommodations, or even highlighting who they are as a company culture. For example: XYZ Brokerage seeks qualified applicants from all backgrounds and we encourage diverse applicants to apply, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people and veterans.

Other steps a broker may take to ensure equity in their hiring and employment practices include:

  • basing agent-broker fee-splits on identifiable factors, such as transaction volume or years of experience, upholding the equal pay for equal work standard;
  • responding promptly and thoroughly to any complaints of discrimination from agents or clients; and
  • making reasonable accommodations in the workplace to ensure protected groups are not excluded from employment, such as allowing time off for religious holidays and making adjustments for employees with disabilities.

Further, employers with 15 or more employees need to post the EEO is Law poster, which summarizes EEO law and directs employees how to make a formal complaint, in a conspicuous location in the office. [42 United States Code §2000e-10 (a); U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]

Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not required to display the EEO is Law poster, but all employers are required to follow the equal pay for equal work standard. [29 Code of Federal Regulations §1620 et seq.]

The gender pay gap

, which sees women systemically earn less money doing the same job as men, is mainly a product of implicit bias on behalf of employers. This also may exist in the context of salary-based office staff who perform administrative work within a real estate brokerage office. This disparity is implicit as employing brokers don’t generally intend to pay female office staff less than a male equivalent doing a similar job, but their hidden expectations, assumptions and attitudes may cause women to receive less pay than men.

Women employed as full-time real estate brokers or sales agents earn on average 70 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same full-time employment, at the national level. On average, that’s a difference of:

Beyond hiring a diverse workforce and seeking out a diverse group of professionals to work with, ensuring equal pay and equal access to employment are crucial to rooting out systemic implicit bias.

Editor’s note – firsttuesday was one of the first schools in California to obtain DRE-approval for the new implicit bias training and expanded Fair Housing course.

To enroll, visit the order page.