MReport May 2020

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18 | M R EP O RT COVER STORY is not only positive for society, but for business. "When different minds come together to achieve a common goal, the results can be nothing but incredible," Escobar said. Escobar added that according to a McKinsey study, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. For Escobar, having a diverse leadership is just "smart business." She added that a recent article by the Harvard Business Review found that having a female presence on the board results in better acquisi- tion, better investment decisions, and less-aggressive risk-taking. "Female directors are less conform- ist than men and more likely to express their independent views because we don't belong to the good ole' boys club." Charmaine Brown, Director, External Outreach and Engagement, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, at Fannie Mae, however, noted women are not advancing to C-suite positions and the numbers are even worse for women of color. She said, of the 532 African American women who earned their MBAs at Harvard Business School between 1977–2015, just 13% (67) have achieved the highest ranking executive positions. This is compared to 19% (161) for African American men. "Let's pay more attention to issues of intersectionality, where multiple stigmatized identities overlap, we know that outcomes are less favorable. People with disabilities and our LGBTQ col- leagues still fear rejection and backlash and cover at work, which negatively impacts productivity and engagement. One size does not fit all, and solutions need to be equitable," Brown said. "Finally, some people continue to struggle with diversity and inclusion and believe that it violates fairness and justice principles. It's critically important to address these misper- ceptions and be clear about why diversity and inclusion and equity is both a business and moral imperative." "I Am Not Interested in Golf" F itting into that aforementioned "good ole' boys club" was not easy for Escobar. She said one thing she did during her now 30-year career— and something she has told her two adult daughters to do—is listen to sports news. Escobar said she had to stay educated to have something "non- work related" to talk to her male colleagues about. "I feel like before we had to do so much to fit in, often taking away from myself, from my authentic interests. Today, women don't have to do that anymore," she said. "Today you can talk about families, hobbies, travel, cur- rent events. You don't need sports to be interesting or to fit in." Escobar noted she became a "sports boss" but quipped: "I am not interested in golf." "It took me quite some time to constantly listen to what was hap- pening, and what the Masters was, and who was attending, and what Tiger Woods' handicap was—non- interesting items to me," she said. "I would much rather talk about the vacation I wanted to take in Greece and get opinions."'s Alexander said, regardless of what people look like and where they're from, "Everyone has a struggle." "I do think that when someone meets me for the first time, they have stereotypes and preconceived ways of where they assume they know me," she said. Alexander, reminiscing about her start in the industry, said she worked in strategy consulting with several male colleagues. She said her male colleagues tended to be more formal, adding: "The way that I would learn to adapt is to mirror how they were acting, sometimes for the better." Alexander said she has mirrored some of the ways men would sit, act, and even talk to each other during a meeting. "Some of it is that you don't bring 100% of yourself, or you refrain from talking about your family, or you refrain because of some of the ways that personal information could be viewed. … I have had comments where I was asked, 'Are you able to do this? You've got children,'" Alexander said. "That's something that hurt me quite deeply early on because I'm looking at my manager and thinking, 'You also have chil- dren. Are you limited because of yours?'" Mason said women in the industry need men just as much as women to help with sponsorship, accelerating careers, mentoring, and coaching to create a diverse pool of candidates. "It's already happening. If you take a look at the Financial Services Committee reports, some people are participating already and leading the pack," Mason said. The American Mortgage Diversity Council —Celebrating Our Differences "The industry is becoming more diverse and companies are taking a closer look at ensuring that their talent is representative of their customers by focusing on attracting and retaining diverse talent." —Lola Oyewole, Head of the American Mortgage Diversity Council AMDC MEMBER INSIGHTS T he American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC) promotes diversity and inclusion throughout the mortgage industry. The organization provides a platform for the collaboration of mortgage industry leaders for the advancement of diversity and inclusion dialogue. The organization develops and provides tools and strategies to create an understanding and appreciation of individual differences in thought, experience, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, style, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Move business practices forward to embrace diversity and inclusion as essential to innovation and opti- mal business results. For our annual Diversity issue, MReport spoke to member organiza- tions to learn about why they believe a commitment to diversity and inclusion is so important, what benefits they gain from AMDC mem- bership, and how embracing and celebrating our differences can make our industry stronger.

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