All it takes is tuning in to the evening news to see that racial inequality is alive and well across our great nation. What some media outlets cover as protests, others dub riots, and the rift between those on either side of the line seems to widen on a daily basis.
As a leader in your organization, your job is to ensure that business runs smoothly to support optimal customer experiences. At ath Power, “It is our business to understand exactly what makes a customer-focused organization succeed.”
Now more than ever, this involves expert employee training, which must include discussions about racism aimed at establishing equality, especially with respect to fair housing and the housing industry, overall. Even landlords who are compliant with fair housing laws might still find themselves facing complaints of illegal discrimination.
With all sensitive issues, the key is training and acknowledging that these conversations are difficult, but necessary. According to Enrica Ruggs, an assistant professor of management at the University of Memphis, “The conversations are challenging because the stakes are high.”
In this case, we urge you to be BRAVE and educate yourself and your staff about inequality in residential facilities in order to stay on the right side of history and away from charges of discrimination.
Responding to Racial and Bias Inequality
Ruggs recognizes that “Many people don’t know how to talk about race or racism at work,” which is where the BRAVE framework, designed to help organizational leaders tackle these tough subjects, is so helpful.
In order To Be One of the ‘Best Places to Work,’ Build a BRAVE Culture: “The BRAVE framework can be used to determine the true culture of an organization underneath the surface or stated culture. The key elements of BRAVE are behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values, and the environment.”
Ruggs, collaborating with Derek Avery, the C.T. Bauer Chair of Inclusive Leadership at the University of Houston, presents a slightly re-defined version of the BRAVE method, applicable for group and one-on-one conversations.
Build the intention, focus, and safety needed to have honest conversations about race
Respect the sensitivity of the topic while challenging people to go beyond the superficial
Acknowledge the uncomfortable realities of the past and the present.
Validate the experiences of your racially marginalized employees.
Emphasize how your company is prioritizing goals and metrics around racial equity.
To those working in the housing industry, particularly in leasing offices or real estate firms, to create equal opportunity experiences for potential residents, conversations should be structured on the BRAVE framework.
“These conversations are necessarily hard,” Avery said. “The underlying current of racial injustice is swift, and escaping it will require work.”
Evidence of Inequality in American Housing
And the work needs to be done, considering this current statistic: “In the first quarter of 2020, the Census Bureau reported that black households had the lowest homeownership rate at 44%, nearly 30 percentage points behind white households.”
If you take A Look At Housing Inequality And Racism In The U.S., “The Urban Institute also states that people of color are more likely than white people to lose wealth during economic downturns through job layoffs and home foreclosures.”
While the American workforce continues to weather the storm unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for racial inequality awareness and productive conversations about fair housing is critical. Think about it: your address represents far more than your residence.
Attacking the Black–White Opportunity Gap That Comes from Residential Segregation means realizing that, “Residential segregation matters immensely, because where people live affects so much of their lives, such as their access to transportation, education, employment opportunities, and good health care.”
Understanding the role of race when it comes to housing means positioning your organization to better support and enact positive change on behalf of entire communities.
Honor the Past by Shaping the Future
Despite the sobering statistics surrounding residential inequality based on race, there is a movement to enact lasting change through careful and conscientious leadership. As Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
To empower your workforce effectively, emphasizing the importance of training, supported by structures like the BRAVE framework, will be crucial to your success — and to sustaining lasting change.
Our team at ath Power Consulting stands in solidarity with those committed to right the wrongs of racial inequality, not only in the housing industry, but across all verticals.
Contact us to discuss how our expertise can ensure that your business is set to lead — empowered and educated to make a positive impact in your community.