Addressing Historical Discrimination and Building a Better Future

We can, must and will do more. Beyond training, we’ve committed to action and investment. 

The following is a post by Ryan Gorman, President & CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

This weekend’s New York Times ran an op-ed that called upon Coldwell Banker, among others, to do more to create equal opportunity and access to housing for underrepresented populations, especially Black Americans.

The op-ed was written by Richard Rothstein, author of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America.” I have read and re-read “The Color of Law” and it is a work I recommend all real estate professionals read to fully understand the discriminatory policies and practices that plague our country’s and industry’s history

The op-ed highlights a community in the San Francisco Bay Area, an upper middle-class suburban neighborhood that is reported to lack some important types of diversity among residents. The author points to the presence of discriminatory deed restrictions put in place in the 1940s as both a symptom and a cause of a lack of diversity.

In the 1940s, a real estate firm marketed homes in the town and advertised deed clauses that enforced the racial exclusivity of the neighborhood . At the time, the real estate firm was an independent brokerage, though it was acquired by a Coldwell Banker-affiliated firm approximately fifty-five years later, in 1995.

Unfortunately, the types of discriminatory deed restrictions and property marketing referenced in this article were once all too common across America.  As a country, as an industry, and as a company, we are called upon to be aware of this history to remind us of how much work remains to be done.

While we are unable to change the past, I am proud of what we at Coldwell Banker are doing to change the current and future state of the industry. As a brand, as real estate professionals and as people – we have the power (and responsibility) to build a future where all people have equal access to and opportunities for housing, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnic background.

Coldwell Banker is a leader – I would argue the leader – in our industry, and with leadership comes responsibility.  It is important that we do not treat this as a moment, but as a movement. We do not need to wait for society to change; we need to commit to actions now to be the force behind that change.

I spoke about this issue in our recent Real Estate of the Union. We updated our Fair Housing Handbook and created from scratch a new Fair Housing training program that we’ve made available to every Coldwell Banker agent and the entire industry.

We can, must and will do more. Beyond training, we’ve committed to action and investment.  We have invited Black real estate entrepreneurs and other members of underrepresented groups into our Inclusive Ownership program, rebating a portion of their royalty fees in their first two years of business, providing up to $100,000 in funding in addition to the royalty fee rebates, extensive mentoring and membership in partner organizations such as NAREB, NAHREP and AREAA. I will be personally mentoring participants in this program, in addition to arranging support from other mentors drawn from our deep leadership bench of Coldwell Banker and our affiliates, many of whom have raised their hands to offer to personally assist.

We will measure our success not by words but by impact. The growth – in population and in success – of our Black agents, brokers, and employees is a key measure. Another is the share consumers of color that we are serving across the country.

We will only make meaningful progress if we work together, across all of our communities, to call out patterns, practices, and results that belie systemic racism; to own Black homeownership rates as ours to address; and to overcommit to addressing these issues.

If you haven’t done so yet, I highly encourage you to join me and thousands of your colleagues to take Coldwell Banker’s Fair Housing Pledge today!


Senior Manager, Public Relations & Giving for Coldwell Banker. Grew up in Sarasota and attended college at Western Carolina University. Athena wanted to wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep so headed to Madison Avenue to start her marketing career. She has been with this awesome brand for more than 15 years and can be found generating buzz about CB in every way possible. Athena helps to grow the brand’s position as the most storied real estate company within the industry and has led many high-profile endeavors; she was at the forefront of the brand’s pioneering smart home campaign, raised $6 million in two years to build 130 Habitat for Humanity homes, and led the Homes for Dogs program in partnership with that resulted in tens-of-thousands of dogs finding their furever home. She currently leads the CB Supports St. Jude program, which encourages the Coldwell Banker network’s 96,000+ real estate agents to make donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for every real estate transaction they represent. In her spare time, you can find her either digging up a new area in her yard for another flower bed or planning her next travel adventure. She's the proud mom of three cats Jolene, Ziggy and Lucy.

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