MReport October 2020

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 67

24 | M R EP O RT FEATURE W hile women have come a long way in leadership over the past decade, there's still much more work to be done. According to the Center for American Progress, women make up over 50% of the U.S. population, but women only account for 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 10% of top management positions in S&P 1500 companies. The housing industry is no exception. Though the industry consists of a large female workforce, positions of leadership are still primarily held by men. Most senior leadership teams or executive boards are not truly representative of those they're leading, which often can create a disconnect. In companies where women are members of executive and senior leadership teams, we see their impact at all levels of the organization in broad public and small private situations. Women possess unique leadership abilities, especially during times of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic made this especially clear. Understanding how women are uniquely positioned to lead the housing industry not only helps create opportunities for growth, it also informs those opportunities. Unique Leadership Skills I n crisis, women lead differently. There are multiple examples within and outside the hous- ing industry. By simply looking at how women lead their teams through the impacts of a pan- demic, there is a clear difference in leadership style we can learn from. Women tend to be more concerned with safety and were quicker to take action to keep employees safe in response to the pandemic. While under stress or faced with stressful decisions, male leaders usually increase their risk-taking, whereas female leaders tend to decrease their risk-taking, according to Mara Mather and Nichole R. Lighthall's research. Working from home has raised the bar for many women as they have used every leadership skill in their possession to balance family and work demands in the same space, and often at the same time. Many women are feeling a lot more pressure to produce the highest quality work while maintaining the overall wellbeing and daily needs of their families. Acknowledging the many part- nerships that exist in the home is important. It also is important to state the obvious and that is that one partner is generally called on more often for meals, homeschool- ing, band-aids, and hugs than the other. The combination of transition- ing to working from home due to a pandemic, absorbing new home situations, and working in an industry under immense pressure due to high production volume and soaring servicing concerns is exposing the strength and resil- ience of women's leadership skills. Their customers may be home- owners anxious about potentially losing their home, wondering how they're going to pay the mortgage, and requesting help or advice to save it. Others are working with first-time homebuyers, and even more experienced borrowers, who are anxious about buying homes in this incredibly uncertain environment. This requires extra reassurance on the part of hous- ing leaders and those in borrower- facing roles to provide not only peace of mind, but also options to assist each borrower with getting into their home and then keeping it during this turbulent time. Although these extra demands can leave women (and men) feel- ing split between work and home, many women possess and express the empathy that their children, colleagues, and borrowers need during this time. Women in leadership understand how to use that knowledge to effectively com- municate, drawing out the core concerns from whomever they are caring for or working alongside. In this way, women are needed in leadership positions if we are to be more flexible in accommodat- ing each audience's unique set of needs. Pew Research supports this notion, finding that women in leadership are more empathetic and more inclined to have the appropriate tools to work through compromises and situations than their male counterparts. During the past few months, empathy has been a critical skill, and many compromises have been made to ensure each employee is and feels taken care of. Women in leader- ship tend to be more open and understanding about these needs, creating a more accommodating work environment. Because of their demonstrated empathy, women tend to be more in tune with the needs of their borrowers. Whether it be a gap in technology or communica- tion, female leaders can bring a unique perspective to problem- solving and understanding how best to fix those gaps. When issues arise, we first understand the technical side and then figure out the communication language, A New Take on Leadership How can female leaders help move the housing industry forward? By Cheryl Wiebe

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of TheMReport - MReport October 2020