4 Key Reminders Around Fair Housing

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April is Fair Housing Month. And this year, we celebrate 56 years since the passing of the Fair Housing Act. Signed by President Lydon B. Johnson in April 1968, this civil rights law made discrimination illegal in the rentals and sales of housing due to race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and familial status illegal. And although it’s been several decades since this law was passed, it’s importance cannot be understated. To that end, Julia Lashay, head of inclusion and belonging at KWRI, joined us to talk about why Fair Housing Month is just as important today as it was when the law was signed 56 years ago. Julia’s role is to make help ensure that the company’s offices are more inclusive and help ensure the many different people of the world get served and treated fairly. And she brought that role to life in our talk.

In general, it’s safe to say that our community is highly ethical and believes in the fair treatment of all. However, it’s also safe to say that sometimes we inadvertently do things that we think may help our people that unfortunately doesn’t help them in the way we intend. But as Julia shared, there are some simple opportunities each and every one of us can look to incorporate in our businesses to advocate for and demonstrate our understanding and support of fair housing.

Read on for Julia’s four key reminders.

1. Examine ourselves.

Each and every one of us has biases. This is a universal truth. And sometimes they come out when we don’t expect them to. After all, we’re all different — and we all have different life experiences – in some way or another from the person next to us. And although we don’t mean to treat people differently, it happens sometimes. To avoid this happening to you, truly look inward. Ask yourselves questions like: what are your thoughts when you are serving people that differ than you? And be honest: did you like the answer you gave?

2. Be consistent with our practices and policies. 

Implement the same buyer consultations, listing consultations, open housings, and pre-approval process. In other words, the way you should proceed through a transaction should be the same for everyone – no adjustments necessary or undertaken. Doing this helps to make sure that everyone gets the same service during every single transaction and it also protects you from yourself. If you can consistently ensure you do the same thing across every single transaction, you can make sure you aren’t unconsciously discriminating against anyone.

3. Ask appropriate questions. 

Getting to know the needs of any client is important. However, it’s always important to make sure you don’t inadvertently ask anything illegal when you’re looking to get deeper insight. A question along the lines of “Who in your household will have the most difficulty with this transaction?” or “Who might need the most support in this transaction?” can help you to uncover things you may need to know to help support your clients at the highest level without asking any questions that infringe on their privacy.

4. Understand the meaning behind words. 

When you understand that words have different levels of impact and importance to some people than others, you can make sure to change your language to be more inclusive. Simple changes can make a big difference. And when you take the time and effort to understand the meaning of your words to others, you help to remove invisible barriers that may have prevented your potential clients from achieving the same outcomes previously.

As Julia helped us to understand, everyone is different. There are so many different kinds of people in the world – and we celebrate each and every one of them during Fair Housing Month. And even though you may not realize it, all of us are operating a wildly diverse businesses, as every client is different from those we’ve served before. By recognizing these simple reminders, you too can ensure you treat all those you come into contact with, with the same high level of service for which you are known.

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