by David C. Forward
We teach ethics to our real estate pre-licensing students, and Realtors® attending Garden State Real Estate Academy’s broker licensing course must take 30 hours of instruction—just in ethics.
When I’m not teaching real estate classes, I am often invited to address audiences around the country. I recently spoke to a class of seniors at a major university about business ethics. These are the young men and women who are about to enter the business world as our future corporate leaders—so I accepted the invitation.
Do real world business leaders PREACH ethics, or PRACTICE them?
How important ethics are any more? We have seen congressman text photos of their genitalia to young women. We’ve seen Volkswagen—one of the largest car companies in the world—deliberately scheme to fabricate emission results. We’ve seen Wells Fargo Bank’s top managers encourage employees to open banks accounts without their customers’ knowledge. And we’ve witnessed a life-saving drug increase in price from $13.50 per tablet to $750 as soon as a hedge fund manager bought the manufacturer.
Do ethics matter anymore?
How we apply Rotary’s Four-Way Test every day.
In Rotary, we have “The Four-Way Test of everything I think, say, or do.” The test is:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
I suspect if the executives of the companies mentioned above had applied the Four-Way Test to their own business decisions, their employers would have been saved from international scandals.
Our association, the National Association of Realtors® has a comprehensive Code of Ethics. We are tested on it before we can renew our license every two years. If we cheat or are dishonest in our dealing with the public—or with another Realtor®—we can be brought before a board of our peers and severely sanctioned. We can be fined heavily or even lose our license.
KW’s famous “WI4C2TS”
Keller Williams is one real estate company that puts its belief system right up front where everybody knows where they stand. They call it WI4C2TS, (Pronounced “Why 4 C two T’s) and it means that in every transaction, the KW agent should make it:
Win-Win: or no deal
Integrity: do the right thing
Customers: always come first
Commitment: in all things
Communication: seek first to understand
Creativity: ideas before results
Teamwork: together everyone achieves more
Trust: starts with honesty
Success: results through people.
The clear majority of my fellow real estate professionals are profoundly committed to the highest ethical standards. I have seen colleagues reach into their pocket to help clients pay a bill. When I announced that I was heading to Joplin, MO to take relief supplies to tornado victims, my local industry colleagues donated $7,000 in three days.
Yes, ethics is important. I believe that they are the very cornerstone of our business practice—and so do most of the people I work with. When experienced agents attend our broker licensing class, we exchange ideas on how to strive for new standards of ethical excellence. And those attending our classes wanting to become new real estate agents will feel our emphasis that true real estate success comes not from the amount of commission they earn, but from the way their clients, customers, competitors and coworkers see them conduct themselves once they have that real estate license.