The real estate industry has very real, real-time issues with race. On the consumer side, we see it in continued fair housing violations. I’ve been a victim — me, the CEO of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® — as recently as when I took this job. Talking about and addressing racial bias is critical — not just for consumers, but for our industry, as well. CAR is an association leader. I am an association leader. And I can say this — microaggressions happen, and they happen regularly.
As an organization with a history steeped in racism and exclusion, it’s critical that we talk about race openly. It’s also critical that we talk about our course correction. We’ve done a lot of really hard work over the years — work that many organizations are just starting. Just look at our board and staff, which we’ve ensured reflects the diversity of our members and communities.
We recently brought back our Diversity Committee, which launched our newest body, The 77, with a designated representative from every single one of Chicago’s neighborhoods, allowing us to really tap into community needs and respond accordingly. In the wake of looting and devastation, the day after the damage, our members were on the ground and responding. Thank you to so many of you who stepped up
by donating to The 77’s Clean Up & Recovery Fund (made possible by the CAR Foundation) to help businesses clean up and recover.
At the beginning of June, ignited by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we brought association staff together to reflect and to share experiences. These events are traumatic and difficult to bear, especially for the Black community, and we wanted to ensure our staff had our support. We did a similar exercise for our board.
We also brought the CAR community together for a summit on Race in the REALTOR® Association. Thank you to our leadership team for sharing your experiences so openly.
CAR is engaged in the work. We have an advantage. But we’re not perfect. The work is far from over. Progress can always be made. While we continue to offer fair housing training, we are improving the programs significantly.
The National Association of REALTORS® also offers free unconscious bias training — a great opportunity for you. Use the resources. Our industry and our communities will be better for it.
As REALTORS®, we are critical in the fulfillment of the dream so many have of homeownership. But that dream cannot be fulfilled when people do not feel safe in their communities. CAR’s mission is not only to help you be successful in your business, but to also help drive the economic development of Chicagoland communities. We have an opportunity now to assist our communities as we rebuild and reconnect as humans. We will rise above this moment by working together. And we will be part of the dialogue helping our communities heal. I look forward to doing the work together.
Michelle Mills Clement
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Association of REALTORS®