MReport September 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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18 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE the upper levels must purposely encourage growth by making decisions to advocate, seek, and hire qualified diverse professionals including women." Powerful female role models are critical for both genders, according to Jardini. These role models are not only the women who are in senior roles. "In fact, at times these women were hard to come by," she said. "Mentors and role models do not have to be senior, or higher on the organizational ladder than you are. They can be peers, colleagues, and subordinates, who have a lot to share when mentoring others." As female leaders, Richards also emphasized the need for women to step up to the plate and "pay it forward, by coaching or mentor- ing younger women professionals." "As executives, it is our duty to mentor and train the next genera- tion of women leaders. We owe it to ourselves and them to continue to knock down walls and break through ceilings to build a better future for our industry." According to Winslow, it also helps when female colleagues succeed, because "people are motivated by seeing someone they can identify with, succeed." It demonstrates a path to growth and achievement." "Give women stretch assign- ments, take a chance on them, and encourage them to take chances on themselves, just as you would their male counterpart. Provide feedback and development opportunities internally and externally. Spotlight female achievements to create interest for other females," she said. "I would add; these are not specific to gender; these thoughts apply across diverse groups." Fercho shared that coaching and mentorship were also all about helping women be their best selves and build confidence in their skills and capabilities. "Confidence breeds certainty, certainty instills belief, and acting on that belief leads to success," she observed. "Sometimes women have the perception that only one of us can succeed. I try to expose women to other successful women in the industry, so they can gain confidence that there are plenty of opportunities for all of us to be successful, and through network- ing and support, we can continue to thrive in our careers and the industry." Looking Ahead I f the industry needs more women in the workforce, especially from the new genera- tion, it will become imperative to focus on inclusion at every level, according to Reaves. "We tend to focus on leadership roles, but I'm personally really excited about the new generation of young women that are entering the workforce. Let's find ways to make our in- dustry attractive to these women. Employers who focus on people development, involvement in our communities, and a work environ- ment where everyone can be successful will win the recruiting game with young women." According to Lindblom, there are still some companies that have not stepped up to the plate or have hired/promoted women internally because they "have" to. "To be successful, both types of companies need to embrace the experience, the thought process, and the ideas from all genders," she advised. "Industry leadership remains primarily dominated by non- diverse males across the entire value chain of the mortgage and housing industry," Winslow said. "It's important for both women and men who are in positions of leadership to mentor and cham- pion other women in the industry and to create opportunities for association and support." Haynes said that to foster a stronger female workforce the in- dustry must intentionally seek out and advance women professionals, as well as promote the broader industry opportunities to women to boost interest in working in the housing finance industry. "I also believe that "men as allies" is criti- cal for the continued growth of women in the industry. With men still dominating the industry, their deliberate and intentional participa- tion in advancing equality in the industry is vital," she said Finally, continuing to shine a spotlight on the importance of this topic will keep it at the top of the agenda when organizations evalu- ate and strategize on how to keep and maintain their best talent, according to Hebert who hopes that "someday my daughter works in a time where we don't have to even talk about gender equality because it won't be a thing; it will just be!" RADHIK A OJHA is a professional writer and editor specializing in the mortgage banking sector. She is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in commerce with a concentration in accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in mass communication. Upon completion of her master's degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd covering the retail market and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. "It's important that we empower women to be who they want to be and focus on what's important to them. Not every working woman wants to be an executive, and not every female executive wants to have a family." —Caroline Reaves, CEO, MCS

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