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Breaking Down Barriers on the Path to a More Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Future

Originally published by Joey Macari on on March 22, 2024

Above, from left, Lisa Nguyen, Nora Aguirre, Jemila Winsey and Anita Legacy Blue

In recent years, the real estate industry has been undergoing a transformative shift toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). To gain insights into this evolution, we gathered perspectives from four influential women at the forefront of championing DEI initiatives in the field. Their experiences, initiatives and insights collectively underscore the ongoing need for a more inclusive industry—one that not only opens doors, but genuinely welcomes talent from diverse backgrounds, offering real opportunities to grow and lead. For them, the path to a more inclusive real estate profession is paved with advocacy, education and a commitment to breaking down barriers for all.

Lisa Nguyen

REALTOR® and Team Leader, RE/MAX Professionals; 2023 Greater Denver Chapter President of AREAA

Breaking barriers in Denver’s real estate landscape

Reflecting on the evolution of diversity and inclusion within the real estate profession, Lisa Nguyen acknowledges the strides made in recent years. “Five years ago, it wasn’t talked about as much as it is in today’s space,” she says. “Twenty-five years ago, it didn’t exist.” Nguyen underscores the pioneering role of RE/MAX Co-Founders Dave and Gail Liniger in breaking down barriers for women in real estate. “They were the first pioneers in hiring and believing in women to be able to sell real estate.”

Nguyen emphasizes the importance of initiatives like fair housing trainings and the advocacy work of organizations such as the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) in promoting diversity and inclusion. AREAA, dedicated to representing the Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community, actively lobbies for initiatives and bills that benefit underserved communities. “The fair housing trainings have been great to not only push DEI, but also to educate agents on what the laws are about these initiatives within the real estate sector,” says Nguyen.

Addressing existing barriers, Nguyen highlights the discrimination in the offer-selection process driven by social media and the challenge of appraisal equity. “With interest rates and all of the recent commission lawsuits, it has put every barrier possible in front of the underserved communities to attain homeownership, which is often the only way that anyone can change the trajectory to attaining generational wealth for their families and break the poverty cycle,” she says.

Nora Aguirre

Team Leader, the Nora Aguirre Team, CENTURY 21 Americana; 2024 NAHREP President

Nurturing Latino representation in real estate

As the 2024 president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), Nora Aguirre brings her perspective on the slow progress of diversity and inclusion within the real estate profession—particularly in the context of the Latino population’s significant role in homeownership growth. “With Latinos representing about 20% of the U.S. population, and projected to drive 70% of homeownership growth, achieving industry representation is critical,” says Aguirre.

Aguirre stresses the importance of organizations like NAHREP and their programs, such as the Top 10 Disciplines and Certified Trainer program, in nurturing talent and diversifying the talent pool. Aguirre, who is responsible for spearheading the Latina Empowerment campaign within CENTURY 21, has worked tirelessly to engage leaders in supporting Latino homebuyers. “A strong and diverse support structure is essential for the success of salespeople, ensuring cultural competence throughout the entire home-buying process,” she says.

Aguirre tackles barriers to homeownership by championing tangible incentives for companies that prioritize diversity. Stressing the economic necessity of embracing diversity, equity and inclusion—particularly in light of Hispanics propelling growth—Aguirre identifies diverse leadership, workforce and partnerships as crucial elements for success in the real estate industry. “Diversity, particularly driven by the dynamic growth of Latinos, is recognized as a key driver of success in the real estate industry and beyond.”

Jemila Winsey

Broker/Owner at ERA Legacy Living; Organizer of NAREB’s Top 100 Black Real Estate Professionals Awards

Recognizing excellence in black real estate professionals

In the ever-evolving landscape of real estate, Jemila Winsey emerges as a passionate advocate for increased representation of Black professionals within the industry. Despite notable progress in enhancing diversity concerning race and gender, Winsey underscores a critical gap, with Black professionals comprising around 6% of the real estate sector—a disparity demanding immediate attention. “We have to do more than just open the door; we need to welcome more Black talent in, offering them real opportunities to grow and lead,” says Winsey. “It’s about mentorship, better networking, recognition and training that speaks to their unique experiences.”

As a leader at the forefront of change, Winsey has spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives such as the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ (NAREB) Top 100 Black Real Estate Professionals Awards. This trailblazing event not only celebrated the individual achievements of Black professionals, but also spotlighted their collective impact, with participants achieving a remarkable $1.8 billion in production volume in 2022. Through this, Winsey made a resounding statement about the excellence that Black professionals bring to the industry.

Winsey underscores the urgent need for targeted recruitment and mentorship programs, addressing the industry’s lack of representation. She envisions breaking the cycle by implementing inclusive opportunities to foster a more equitable future. “These should not only open doors for leadership roles and recognition for underrepresented groups, but also involve rethinking our decision-making processes to better reflect our diverse socioeconomic experiences,” she says.

Anita Legacy Blue

REALTOR® at eXp Realty; National President and Chair,

LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance

Advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusivity

Anita Legacy Blue, national president and chair of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and 35-year Air Force veteran, sheds light on the changing dynamics within organizations regarding diversity and inclusion. “Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have become critical in organizations, and they’re being taken seriously,” says Blue, who notes the increasing engagement of companies in diverse initiatives, mentorship programs and executive attendance at events focused on diversity.

Blue’s impactful contributions this past year through the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance have been instrumental. These include participation in supplier diversity programs, fostering community outreach partnerships and lending support to the Stop Hate in Real Estate initiative. Blue emphasizes some of the shared challenges these groups face, citing collaborations between LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, AREAA, NAHREP and WomanUp! to combat industry discrimination. “The issues we all face are similar, and we can now speak as one,” she says.

Blue also emphasizes a critical concern within the industry where top real estate brokerages and agents frequently concentrate primarily on high-priced communities and affluent clients, driven by profit motives. She advocates for a necessary industry improvement, saying, “We need to do a better job as an industry in providing guidance, advice and counsel to diverse groups so they, too, can fully enjoy the financial and emotional benefits of homeownership.”


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