The National Association of Realtors' Washington, D.C. office. Photo by Elvert Barnes | CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Two prominent Massachusetts real estate industry leaders are speaking out in the wake of explosive allegations against 2023 National Association of Realtors President Kenny Parcell.

Parcell resigned Monday afternoon following the publication of an investigation by the New York Times into claims by a total of 29 NAR members and employees of sexual harassment, a sexist workplace environment and a “culture of fear” around reporting harassment incidents. Parcell, a Utah Realtor, denies allegations that he personally sexually harassed 19 women members and employees and retaliated against a former NAR executive after his relationship with her ended.

In emails to Banker & Tradesman, Jack Conway CEO and board chair Carol Bulman and Coldwell Banker Northeast Regional President Pauline Bennett expressed disappointment and outrage at the behavior described in the allegations against Parcell.

“I know this behavior exist in our world because I’ve experienced it. Certainly not overtly as reported in this article but each time we are dismissed, ignored, are the butt of sarcasm and jokes, and each time we are told that we are too sensitive, this behavior perpetuates,” Bulman said. “I hope all Realtors, men and women alike, will be sad and disappointed by these allegations and proud of the courageous women who stepped forward. Then, let’s be equally courageous, by not minimizing the possibility that a culture of fear and disrespect can exist.  We can all do our part by  making our next action, word, or behavior something our mothers, daughters and sisters would be proud of.”

Bennett called the alleged actions described in the Times investigation “unacceptable.”

“All organizations have a duty to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for all, and this is especially true for an organization that serves as one of the predominant voices for an entire industry,” she said. “I encourage all dues-paying REALTORS to share their concerns with their local NAR representatives. We are all part of this organization, and our voices should be heard that there is zero tolerance for harassment.”

The two joined a smaller cohort of national real estate leaders who’ve spoken out like Coldwell Banker parent company Anywhere Brands CEO Sue Yannaccone, who said in a statement posted to her LinkedIn page Monday that she was “disturbed” and “disappointed” about the allegations. Yannaccone said she had personally called NAR CEO Bob Goldberg to “to better understand what the organization is doing to not only properly investigate but also take immediate action against all bad actors” and called for NAR to “urgently” update its policies and practices on sexual harassment and discrimination.

On Parcell’s resignation Monday, NAR president-elect Tracy Kasper immediately assumed the organization’s presidency and pledged in a memo to association members that NAR would be setting up a pair of advisory councils, one for association staff and the other for members, focused on workplace and association culture.

“We have taken everything we have heard to heart. Our commitment to our staff and our members is unwavering, and we will continue to enhance the way we foster a welcoming, safe and respectful workplace,” she said. “We are looking to make lasting and positive change and to do so as quickly as possible.”

Mass. Brokerage Leaders Respond to NAR Harassment Investigation

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min