On June 7, 2019, Keller Williams Realty, the largest real estate force in the world, proudly joined the Business Coalition for the Equality Act to stand united with leading U.S. employers and major real estate brokerages in support of the Equality Act (H.R. 5). The bill is aimed at amending civil rights laws, including the Fair Housing Act, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in the sale, rental, or finance of housing.
“At Keller Williams, we stand behind why we do what we do: to build careers worth having, businesses worth owning, lives worth living, experiences worth giving … and legacies worth leaving – big and small, for one and all,” shared Gary Keller, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Keller Williams.
Fair Housing for All
While there has been great progress made in fair housing over the past 51 years, the passage of the Equality Act into law would be a pivotal step toward expanding legal protections to ensure no person can be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Protections include employment as well as housing.
Christopher Broughton, a Keller Williams associate and an early founder of the KW Rainbow Network – an international network of Keller Williams LGBTQ leaders and associates – notes that real estate agents already have the requirement to conduct business fairly, yet more protection is needed across all industries nationwide.
“As REALTORS®, we already have a fiduciary responsibility to protect and not discriminate; sexual orientation and gender identity were written into the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics in 2004 and 2010, respectively. The Equality Act expands these protections beyond our industry to make it the law of the nation,” says Broughton.
Since its inception, the group has organically grown to 1,200 members in eight countries and across 100 major U.S cities.
Lisa Ortiz-Rodriguez, KW Rainbow Network leadership council member and New York City chapter president of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), has been with Keller Williams for 13 years and never felt more proud to be in business with the company than she did this week.
“The company’s actions have tremendously affected us. Keller Williams’ support for the Equality Act demonstrates that KW is committed to its mission, vision and values,” Ortiz-Rodriguez says.
A Longstanding Commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion
Equality is not a new position or initiative for Keller Williams. In fact, for more than 10 years, KWRI has offered employees same-sex benefits. And, in January 2019, Forbes ranked Keller Williams as one of the “Best Employers for Diversity in 2019.”
The list recognized employers across the United States who have successfully cultivated a culture and environment that welcomes and supports all employees. At Keller Williams, this culture is born and sustained through the tireless acts of industry leaders and associates who serve and guide all in the pursuit of homeownership – a longstanding pillar of the American Dream.
Julia Israel, KW agent and president of the Twin Cities National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), is passionate about building stronger communities through homeownership. She dedicates this fervor to the culture and environment that has helped her succeed. In addition to her industry involvement, Israel is a member of KW BRN – a professional network of African-American real estate professionals who serve under the Keller Williams umbrella.
“At Keller Williams, I have been exposed to incredible black leaders who have helped move my career in unimaginable ways,” says Israel. “I joined this company 14 years ago for its mission and values and can confidently say that the culture I joined for is still alive and well today. I know I belong here.”
Linda Lee, a top KW agent in San Diego, California, couldn’t agree more.
“I’ve been with Keller Williams for over seven years, and I see our leadership – from the market center to executive level – consistently taking the best interests of the agent to heart,” she shares. “The culture at Keller Williams is very open and loving. It inspires me to give back to the industry.”
As a NAR Global Ambassador, Lee dedicates her time, energy and talents to building key relationships with REALTORS® in China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan. She is also a member of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), a professional trade organization and powerful national voice for housing and real estate professionals who serve the dynamic Asian-American market.
“Professional groups like AREAA, KW BRN, and the KW Rainbow Network are important, because the clients we advocate for have a unique set of needs and issues culturally, economically and politically” she shares. “Despite our differences, the intent is the same – to advocate and help everyone achieve homeownership. We are in this together and only grow stronger when we unite.”
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