MReport September 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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14 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE " W omen's labor force participation has increased from 32% in 1950 to 57% in 2018, while men's participation fell from 82% to 69% during the same period, according to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA). Today, women earn more bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees than men and their numbers are growing even in what was once considered a man's domain. Yet, their lack of representation in executive roles in these indus- tries remains a constant challenge. According to the McKinsey/LeanIn 2018 Women in the Workplace study, women continue to remain underrepresented at leadership levels. However, organizations like Bank of America are leading the way in reversing this trend— women make up more than 50% of the bank's global workforce, more than 45% of its global management team, and more than 40% of man- agers with direct reports. Equal Opportunities O ur Board of Directors is more than 30% of women versus the S&P 500 benchmark of 23%, and we are one of only 10 S&P 100 companies with five or more women on the board," said AJ Barkley, SVP Neighborhood Lending Executive, Consumer Lending at Bank of America. Barkley attributes the increased number of women at executive levels to the bank's commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, which in turn, plays a vital role in reducing gender bias. "They create accountability for companies and their leaders to activate each initiative and achieve the goals put in place," she said. "Our Investing in Women strategy engages senior leaders from across the business and all regions, and successfully addresses the chal- lenges and opportunities specific to our businesses, the financial services industry, and the markets we serve." Similarly, Fannie Mae is com- mitted to diversity at all levels of its organization. According to Nancy Jardini, SVP, Chief Compliance Officer, and Chief Office of Minority and Women Inclusion Officer, at Fannie Mae, 55% of the GSE's employees are mi- norities and 45% are women. "We have gender representation at all levels, including our board of di- rectors of which 38% are women." "Contributions of women to the industry and society are enormous and crucial to any successful busi- ness. The industry understands that women not only matter and are here to stay but that we are a driving force for change, impact, and success," said Deborah Garcia- Gratacos, President and CEO, Deval LLC. "So a mortgage in- dustry that can not catch up with the evolution of women in the workplace, not just at lower levels but in management will miss out on opportunities to incorporate this extremely valuable knowledge, expertise, and market representa- tion to the workforce." So how can more companies work towards creating a more diverse team? According to the 2018 McKinsey Women in the Workplace study, these actions can begin with treating gender diversity "like the business priority it is, from setting targets to holding leaders accountable for results. It requires closing gender gaps in hiring and promotions, especially early in the pipeline when women are most often overlooked. And it means taking bolder steps to create a respectful and inclusive culture so women—and all employees—feel safe and supported at work." Organizations like Flagstar Bank are already making gender inclusiveness a top management priority according to Kristy Fercho, EVP, President of Mortgage, at Flagstar Bank. The bank's CEO, Alessandro P. DiNello, has taken action to promote gender equality through its diversity & inclu- sion (D&I) initiatives. Flagstar has also established five pillars of D&I: Market share and product innovation, diverse talent acqui- sition, talent engagement and development, community con- nectivity, and diverse suppliers. "These initiatives have provided great development opportunities for women to lead, have visibility with our executive team, and make an impact across the organi- zation," she said. Companies that are specific to the mortgage and servicing industry have also made efforts to address this issue in recent years. "For decades, people who are not a part of the majority have worked tirelessly to help create and move the housing industry forward," said Kelly Hebert, Director of Sales Operations, LERETA. "At LERETA, 54% of our managers and division heads are females who not only provide their profes- sional expertise in an area of the industry that is not glamorous but continues to drive excellence as well." In the servicing space, compa- nies like MCS are taking the lead in promoting gender equality. "Women make up almost 40% of our executive team and 40% of our middle management. We have female leaders in every aspect of our business who are mentor- ing future leaders," said Caroline Reaves, CEO, MCS. "We embrace the different types of female lead- ers we have at MCS and allow them to think independently about On Equal Footing MReport speaks to women mortgage professionals on gender bias and the steps being taken by the industry towards equality in the workplace. By Radhika Ojha

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