Progress starts at home — Why Zillow is taking The Board Challenge

By Rich Barton, co-founder and CEO of Zillow

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CNBC interviews Board Challenge co-founder Brad Gerstner and Zillow’s Rich Barton

At Zillow, we were founded on the idea of turning on the lights in real estate — empowering all people with information that had previously been shrouded in darkness. In pursuit of this, for more than a decade Zillow has put the power of our platform behind our dedicated efforts to shine a light on the systemic racism inherent in our industry. 

By reporting on the data behind the trends in housing, we’ve exposed heartbreaking patterns of discrimination in many corners of real estate, including the persistent impact of redlining on neighborhoods, blatant racism in lending, and more. The findings are unacceptable: 

  • Today, only 41 percent of Black households live in a home they own, compared to 71 percent of white households. The gap is wider than it was in 1900.  
  • In 2017, mortgages were denied to Black applicants at a rate 80% higher than their white peers, and more than double the rate when applying for a conventional loan.

Shining light into unseen places and giving power to the people are core values and founding principles at Zillow. That is why we have been sharing our workforce diversity and pay equity data since 2016, to hold ourselves accountable to do better for our own team members. 

The future of real estate must be more equitable, accessible, and fair than its past.

Rich Barton

Our deep commitment to eradicating systemic injustice extends inward, and today, Zillow is announcing that we are joining 40+ other companies in The Board Challenge, a pledge convened by Altimeter Capital, Valence Community and theBoardlist to add a Black director to our corporate Board of Directors by Sept. 2021. With our company rapidly growing over the past 16 years, adding racial diversity on our board was not an immediate priority. We recognize now it’s time to do the right thing. 

The search for a Black director is already well underway at Zillow, and we’re very excited about the talented candidates we’ve been able to talk to. 

The perspectives and ideas we listen to, and the voices we elevate, will determine the future of our industries, our companies, and ultimately our world.  It’s obvious that Black people are underrepresented in corporate boardrooms and other positions of leadership and power. It is something we don’t talk about enough. The Board Challenge is an opportunity to talk about it more and do something about it. We are in. 

At Zillow, we are also in the process of setting rigorous goals to close the gaps in representation among our employee community. Over the past several years, we have improved our recruiting practices to attract more diverse candidates, working with organizations like Afrotech, HBCUs, and Code 20/40. We are also deepening our partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance to promote more equity, access and justice in real estate.  

The future of real estate must be more equitable, accessible, and fair than its past, which is rife with racism and discrimination that has held back generations from wealth and even stability. Our commitment to a more equitable future for our company, our industry, and our world is the reason that we made a statement several months ago that Racism Has No Home Here, and that we can and will do more to promote a more just and fair world.