Less than 24 hours after the abrupt resignation of its president amid sexual harassment allegations, the National Association of Realtors kicked off its planned two-day real estate innovation opportunity conference called iOi Summit at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel on Tuesday.
Kenny Parcell, 50, stepped down late Monday after a New York Times report Saturday revealing multiple women who had worked at the nation’s largest real estate professional organization accused him of inappropriate behavior and touching.
One of the women was a former female employee who said she had a consensual relationship with Parcell, and after that ended claimed in a lawsuit against the powerful Realtors’ group that she was subjected to racial discrimination and sexual harassment. She settled with the 1.5 million-member organization last month and withdrew her suit.
Parcell, a Utah real estate agent who became the Chicago-based association’s president in November 2022, has strongly denied all the women’s accusations.
Tracy Kasper, new president of the Realtors’ association, was in Miami Tuesday for the summit designed to inform the 700 real estate professionals and innovators in attendance about the role technology will play in the industry’s future. Kasper, who had been expected to step into the president’s role in November, has worked as a real estate agent and broker in Idaho for more than 25 years.
She declined an interview request by the Miami Herald, but the organization provided prepared remarks from her about the leadership shakeup.
“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,” Kasper wrote in a statement to the group’s membership that was shared with the media.
The scathing Times article noted that 29 former female employees of the national real estate group or its affiliates alleged years of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints against Parcell and former leaders that led to what one former longtime female employee called a “culture of fear” within the organization.
One panel discussion Tuesday at the Miami conference focused on the need for diversity among real estate professionals. Houston real estate professional Kenya Burrell said that women and people of color deserve more support in the industry.
“We need to continue to show up for women in real estate,” she said, emphatically. “We need to recognize inequities.”
Conference attendee PropTech Consulting founder Jonathan Klein hopes the Realtors group can ensure employees of all backgrounds are treated properly at work.
“It’s important that they tackle it head on,” Klein said.