In the wake of the New York Times exposé, which revealed sexual harassment allegations and a “culture of fear” at the National Association of Realtors, the trade organization is throwing its support behind longtime CEO Bob Goldberg.
In a statement confirming that a rumored emergency executive committee meeting had occurred on Thursday, newly appointed NAR president Tracy Kasper, who took the helm on Monday after Kenny Parcell’s resignation, said the executive committee was looking into policies and procedures related to the complaints discussed in the Times story.
“We know there are some who have been hurt, and we acknowledge that it is up to all of us at NAR to make the necessary change to create an atmosphere where they feel safe. We recognize there is so much work to be done. We will be seeking further input and considerations for action through recommendations of the Executive Committee and the Culture PAG,” a statement attributed to Kasper read.
“The consensus among the Executive Committee is we need to rebuild trust with staff and members with meaningful change. We are bringing in third party experts to carefully and comprehensively look at what we’re doing now for what works, what needs to be changed and what is missing. We also will support and empower staff in their similar efforts. The Executive Committee agreed we have a shared purpose and are united in support of our staff and that includes Bob,” she concluded.
Ahead of Thursday’s executive committee meeting, rumors were swirling that Goldberg and other executives could find themselves out of a job, but that is clearly not the direction NAR has decided to take, despite many members calling for the resignation of Goldberg on message boards and social media.
On Monday, prior to Parcell’s resignation, a Change.org petition was started calling for his dismissal. By Wednesday, this effort had morphed into the NAR Accountability Project. One of the first demands of the project was that Goldberg and others within NAR’s executive committee retire early. Goldberg is currently set to retire at the end of 2024, closing out his 30-year career at the trade group.
A rough week for NAR
It has been a rough week for the 1.5 million member trade organization. In the Times exposé, published last Saturday, Parcell, who had served as NAR president since November 2022, was called out for alleged sexual harassment by 16 of the more than two dozen current and former NAR employees interviewed by the Times. Parcell ultimately resigned from his position Monday evening.
Parcell has defended himself over the allegations in the NYT story. “I am deeply troubled by those looking to tarnish my character and mischaracterize my well-intended actions,” Parcell wrote in a letter to NAR’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, first published by RISMedia. “This resignation signifies that I will put the organization’s needs first to move forward above my own personal needs to stay in this position.”
Parcell also wrote that the allegations were false, and claimed he was the victim of character assassination.
In the Times investigation, three women described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Parcell, who runs the Kenny Parcell Team at Equity Realty in Spanish Forks, Utah.
One woman reported that Parcell placed his hands down his pants in front of her, while another woman said that she received unsolicited lewd photos and texts from him, including a picture of his crotch. Parcell denied that he had done anything inappropriate, saying the picture in question was of a promotional belt buckle and he was asking for input on the design.
A third woman, Janelle Brevard, who filed a lawsuit in the summer, disclosed a consensual relationship with Parcell that lasted months and ended with the NAR president allegedly retaliating against her.
Brevard settled a lawsuit with NAR that included a $107,000 severance payment and a nondisclosure agreement, the Times reported. According to Bruce Fox, a lawyer who began representing Brevard in August, his client decided to settle the case after “feeling intimidated by such a powerful adversary.”
Another woman, Amy Swida, a director of business meetings and events at the organization, filed an internal complaint of sexual harassment or gender discrimination by Parcell. Swida alleged that he was cruel and condescending to her after she became pregnant. She worried about being cut off from future opportunities.
“I’m scared every day coming to work,” she told the Times. NAR said Swida’s complaint was documented, and she was promoted several months later. Parcell also denied any wrongdoing.
“There is the sexual harassment, and then woven into it, this culture of fear,” Stephanie Quinn, the organization’s former director of business meetings and events told the Times. “His behavior is predatory.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Kasper said that it was important to NAR that they “take this moment to learn and focus on building a culture of camaraderie where we can do the good work we are all so passionate about.”
“This is a really hard time for our association. But I know this is an opportunity to really listen and grow together,” Kasper added. “As your president, I take the responsibility of rebuilding very seriously. Know I’m here for you, as is the entire leadership team, and we will get through this together.”