The leader of the largest trade association in America walked away from his position this week amid charges of sexual harassment. Kenny Parcell, who commenced his one-year term as president of the powerful National Association of Realtors in November 2022, resigned on Monday on the heels of a New York Times article detailing complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination by Parcell and an overall culture of sexual harassment of women at the 115-year-old institution. Parcell has denied the allegations made by multiple women, including one who, following the end of a consensual relationship with Parcell, became subject to retaliatory acts, including her ultimate dismissal from the organization. The accuser filed a lawsuit against NAR, citing harassment and racial and sexual discrimination, but later withdrew the lawsuit following a settlement with the organization.
Other women came forward with complaints against Parcell as part of an independent investigation. Others made allegations that include inappropriate touching and texting by Purcell, who apparently couldn’t bring himself to adhere to the spirit of the REALTOR Code of Ethics (a hyperlink to which is proudly and prominently displayed on the association’s website), despite having held several leadership positions at NAR over the years. I say “spirit” of the Code of Ethics, as the document forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in its Duties to Clients and Customers section and Duties to the Public Section, but not in its Duties to Realtors section. Surely NAR has codes of conduct involving everyone involved with the institution, including its staff. However, one should not need an official document to know that inappropriate touching at the job or anywhere is illegal, immoral, unethical, and just wrong. Tracy Kasper, who has stepped into the position of president of NAR in advance of the scheduled November 2023 passing of the baton, has issued a statement to NAR members, vowing to “enhance the way we foster a welcoming, safe and respectful workplace.”