Fair Housing and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Episode 26 of Fair Housing Insiders

Fair Housing and diversity equity and inclusion.
Hands surrounding different colored game pieces.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion. What does it have to do with fair housing? Our special guest, Jen Piccotti from Swift Bunny, discusses how we as an industry need to do more than check a box. We need to build a culture.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Highlights of Episode 26 – Fair Housing and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Multi-family property management is a people business. So how are we treating our people? The answer to this question can be seen by how they treat the residents. The culture of our company creates a trickle-down effect. Swift Bunny shares the results of their 2020 diversity and inclusion study to help us as an industry celebrate our success as well as see where we need to improve.

Fair Housing – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statistics

Statistics are crucial to helping us understand our strengths and weaknesses. For example, the aforementioned study completed in October 2020 showed the following:

  • Just over 82% of respondents agree that their supervisor creates an inclusive work environment
  • 80% agree that their company is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace 
  • Only two-thirds agree that employees are treated equally
  • Only 68% agree that job opportunities are promoted to all employees

From these statistics, we can see that while we are doing well as an industry, there is still room for improvement. We want to continue to improve not only because it’s what potential investors are looking for but also because our company’s culture directly affects our residents.

Suppose our staff isn’t coming from an environment where they are being treated fairly and equitably. How can we expect them to treat our residents differently? Fair housing tenements are rooted in inclusive practices; it only stands to reason that our companies should be as well.

Corporate Culture and Fair Housing

Corporate culture is more than one department or executive’s responsibility. It is a mindset, an environment that is being created by a wide variety of individuals.

Companies should be creating environments where employees feel they have the tools and resources they need to thrive—a place where every individual is comfortable. 

One aspect of this can be training. But more is needed than a once-a-year course. To become a culture, staff must have multiple opportunities to discuss scenarios and possibly role-play to better understand what DEI truly encompasses. By providing opportunities like these, you show that diversity, equity, and inclusion are a way to be, not just a thing to do.

Job Opportunities and Fair Treatment

Another interesting trend that the statistics showed was the feeling surrounding job advancement opportunities. Consider some of the feedback that was received:

  • …this industry is so male dominated it feels like there is a glass ceiling women can only look through.”
  • (We need) more POC in higher positions…I would like to see leadership grow and mentor POC and women into positions that are currently filled by white men.”

Employees want to feel that career advancement is available to all. To start, a company can represent this by having a diverse leadership team. Building upon that, companies need to ensure that staff is fairly and equitably made aware when a job opportunity does arise within the company.

Equality vs. Equity

At first glance, they may seem like the same thing. But examine this illustration:

Equality vs Equity - Difference and Comparison | Diffen

Providing the same or equal resources for every individual does not always solve the problem. Individual needs can vary significantly. However, providing resources that are inclusive to the individual’s needs is the next best step.  Equity is when we can remove the barrier for all people to accomplish the task. This may take time, so until then, providing every team member access to the resources they need to achieve their goals is the best place to start.

More Than Checking a Box

Diversity, equity, and inclusion need to be more than an HR exercise once a year and then shelved so to speak. There has to be action. Employees need to see tangible evidence of change and feel confident and comfortable in their positions as well as the opportunity to grow. As a result, we will have a productive work environment and can continue to move the needle until all employees can feel strongly that their company is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

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