MReport April 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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30 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE A s New York politician Shirley Chisolm once said, "If they don't get you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair." Chisolm lived those words. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress and held the seat for seven terms. In 1972, she became the first black candidate for a major party's nomination for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Great lessons can be learned from Chisolm, especially for female and minority mortgage profession- als who are attempting to climb the corporate ladder and into positions of leadership. But once these groups achieve a C-level position or a seat at the management table, the pro- fessional challenges do not end. Women and minorities in positions of leadership often face unconscious bias. Not only can this be difficult for the individual, but it can also make the manage- ment team less effective. However, there are ways to combat uncon- scious bias that have the impact of limiting the personal potential of women as well as of minorities. These strategies are not only effec- tive, but they foster a greater di- versity of opinion in organizations, which helps companies perform better. The key is understanding how and why they work and when to use them. Dealing with Unconscious Bias M ost people who experi- ence unconscious bias know it when they see it. We asked women about this at Computershare's inaugural Women4Women Summit, where employees were invited to help inspire, engage, and empower the women of Computershare. Summit attendees were asked if they'd ever experienced uncon- scious bias in their career. Only 8 percent said no, while 19 percent were unsure. Nearly three-quarters of attendees said yes. Company meetings are one place in which bias, intentional or unintentional, is often revealed. An example of this would be when one person speaks over or inter- rupts another person or ignores the other person's contributions to the discussion. These are also known as micro- aggressions, a form of marginaliza- tion that is generally defined as a statement or action that is seen as indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group, such as women or ethnic minorities. When this happens to you, these behaviors are interpreted as "I am not respected and my ideas are not valued." Microaggressions can be chal- lenging to spot. Any one of us can do something unintention- ally, however small, that may be interpreted as a slight. At the Women4Women Summit, 75 women were asked whether it was worse to have someone disagree with you or be marginalized. Each one said being marginalized was worse. You don't have to be female to be on the receiving end of mi- croaggressions. But when we are interrupted or ignored, the feeling is one of not belonging or valued. Using a One-Two Punch to Deflate Bias R emoving bias in the workplace is everyone's responsibility, especially among a company's leadership and managers. One useful strategy for combat- ting the microaggression in the meeting example is to reconnect with the speaker. The key to this strategy is to be aware of the behavior, and when one person is being ignored, bring the conversa- tion back to the person by saying, "Getting back to what Mary said about …" This has the impact of bringing the discussion back to the individual who was interrupted and allowing the group to discuss the idea further. When microaggressions repeat- edly occur in meetings, some plan- ning ahead can help. Socializing the idea with others ahead of time can make for a smoother group discussion. This helps to ensure you have considered all objections and views before the larger conver- sation. The amazing thing about recon- necting back to the speaker and similar strategies is that they work not just in the moment, but over the long term as well. In time, the dynamic of the group will start to change. Other people will start paying attention to new voices and ideas, and a new "norm" is created within the group. All people will feel welcome and included. Promoting Diversity From Above O nce you have made it to the C-suite or gotten a seat at the table, there are many ways to support the advancement of When a Seat at the Table Isn't Enough How women and minority leaders can fight unconscious bias from the C-suite. By Debora Aydelotte

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