The Real Deal New York

Real estate execs consider their roles in a politically divided nation

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman share their thoughts
January 24, 2018 08:30AM

Robert Reffkin and Glenn Kelman

The red-hot political climate in the U.S. has left some industry leaders stuck weighing their professional obligations and their personal convictions.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman told attendees of a panel discussion at Inman Connect’s New York conference on Tuesday that they’ve both found themselves reflecting their roles and actions.

Kelman said that some Redfin employees took issue when they found out he and other company execs wrote to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory threatening to pull out of a deal to open a mortgage business in Charlotte if he signed a so-called “bathroom bill” banning transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with being publicly traded as much as… I feel like a coward often,” Kelman told the crowd at Carnegie Hall, adding that he wondered about the appropriateness of sharing his personal opinions from a platform built on the backs of employees with diverse opinions themselves.

Reffkin took enough issue with President Trump’s brief travel ban to protest at John F. Kennedy International Airport over the summer with his family.

The real estate industry has struggled to deal with the often dividing actions and words of Trump, a man with close ties to many in the industry, particularly in New York. Some accepted appointments from the president to join task forces, like the now-disbanded infrastructure task force once led by Richard LeFrak and Steve Roth, but many have distanced themselves from him following his more controversial remarks, such as in Charlottesville. [Inman]Dennis Lynch