Our Role in Fighting Racism
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
A Message from Glenn Kellman, CEO of Redfin
Originally published on June 10th on the Redfin Blog
On May 31, Redfin joined many other people and companies denouncing racism and racial violence. We believe Black Lives Matter and we support police reform, but we’re writing today about a more fundamental responsibility our company has to address racism: integration.
We can’t come together for a protest and then return to life in different worlds. We can heal our society’s great wound only if Black people and white people live side by side, with the same schools, grocery stores and job opportunities. This requires every real estate agent to approach our jobs differently.
Exclusivity isn’t an occasional problem in the real estate industry; it has been a founding premise. Homebuyers seeking a coveted neighborhood don’t pay $10,000 in fees for agents to complete a contract or show a home. An agent earns those fees by finding a way for her customers to get the loan others couldn’t, the listings others overlooked, the deal done with an agent she has known for years. The result can change a family’s trajectory across generations.
At Redfin, we’re creating a world where no one has to know the secret handshake to get the loan, the listing or the deal. In the meantime, our job as agents is to pursue these advantages for each of our customers with zeal. That obligates us to pursue each customer with zeal, whether that customer is Black or white, new to home-buying or an old hand.
Equal service should be the norm in our industry, but it isn’t. Industry-wide studies in 2018 and 2019 show that white people get much better real estate service than Black people with the same finances. That difference perpetuates segregated neighborhoods.
This is why Redfin’s mission to redefine real estate in your favor has long included a special commitment to our customers of color. At Redfin’s 2020 kickoff meeting, we trained our agents and lenders on racism in real estate. In 2019, we successfully campaigned to eliminate pocket listings that can prevent minority homebuyers from seeing the most desirable homes for sale.
In 2018, we hosted an industry event on racism featuring our agents, customers and academics. We’ve supported controversial business taxes to fund more housing, and controversial zoning for more integrated neighborhoods. The representation of people of color in our workforce has increased from 34% in 2018 to 35% in 2019 to 36% in 2020; it’s now more than double the industry average.
But after George Floyd’s death, we came to a reckoning that our efforts haven’t been enough. Redfin decided last week to base a significant portion of next year’s executive bonuses on goals to increase the company’s overall diversity, and the diversity of our executives and board members. By the end of 2020, Redfin’s leaders have committed the first funding for a million-dollar-plus philanthropic effort to increase housing access for low-income or under-served communities.
This summer, we’re extending inclusive-management training from our brokerage’s managers to all our managers. And we’re exploring how we can keep broadening the range of lower-income neighborhoods and rural towns we serve.
But our first obligation is to fight for you the Black homebuyer — and also the veteran homebuyer, the Latinx homebuyer, the Asian homebuyer, the gay homebuyer, every homebuyer — using all our capabilities as top-producing local agents and lenders, and all of our technology: to embrace your aspirations, and to give you every advantage when buying a home, especially in neighborhoods where you’ve historically been shut out.
This may seem like the least we can do, but it’s what’s most important, and we don’t take it for granted. If we ever fail to treat you fairly, I want to know about it. You can contact me directly, and we’ll make it right. We believe in your dream of a better life, for your family, and for our society.
Best, Glenn | firstname.lastname@example.org