For me, ethnicity is not necessarily something you can spot from afar, but rather something else that follows me at all times: my name. If you were to see me on the street, you might think I’m Irish, thanks to my red hair. But after hearing my name, many are completely stumped as to my nationality. Here is the truth: I’m a fourth-generation American with Eastern European roots – not a drop of Irish in me. As for my name? Zipporah is the Hebrew word for bird, and she was Moses’ wife in the bible. I am not Israeli, but I do have a father who taught religious studies at the University of Illinois for 35 years, hence the obscure biblical, Hebrew, name. When I was growing up, I hated my name. It was hard to spell, hard to pronounce and it made me different. Having red hair as a kid was one thing, but having a name that no one could understand didn’t make things any easier.
When I headed off to college, I had decided to use my middle name, Rachel. This was a name everyone could pronounce and spell, and I wouldn’t have to give a dissertation on its origin to everyone I met. Immediately upon arriving at school, I kept forgetting my plan to use a different name. However, all of a sudden I realized my name made me unique and memorable. Instead of trying to be like everyone else, I automatically stood out and everyone remembered me. After joining a sorority with four other Rachels in my pledge class (no exaggeration), I was happy to have a name that was unique, and told a story about my life in just one word.
While mostly I receive positive feedback about my name, I have had a number of employers admit that they were skeptical to call me because they didn’t know how to pronounce it. Luckily, those few looked past my name and noticed my capabilities, but how many have not contacted me for fear of the unknown? Don’t be afraid to work with people that are different than you are, a talented Realtor should be able to work with anyone that is looking to buy. Living in Chicago, I still get plenty of questions about my name, but usually it’s a compliment, and though it’s still hard to spell, no one seems to mind. One of the great things about city life is that everyone comes from a different background, and we’re here together enjoying the same experiences from being squished on the El to noshing on nachos at a baseball game – regardless of which field you frequent. In this melting pot of a city, if not a country, we are lucky to work with people from so many different ethnicities and backgrounds. Realtors should not be afraid to branch out from the clientele they are familiar with, and work with people that are completely different. It might take a little extra sensitivity and perhaps some research, but it is silly to limit your client base in any way. Additionally, why not take a stab at earning an At Home With Diversity designation? Not only will you have another designation to add to your resume, but you’ll have even more tools in your arsenal to nab more clients.