MReport May 2022

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M R EP O RT | 33 EXPERT INSIGHTS to meeting the needs of these diverse communities as consum- ers. Across industries, companies must embrace diversity with inclusion policies essential to developing a solid foundation in the marketplace. To assist the home lend- ing industry in becoming a more accurate reflection of our country's diversity, one strategy I focus on in my role as VP of Marketplace Diversity Strategy is diverse lending. I am dedicated to leading advocacy efforts and homeownership education to increase financial literacy and help build generational wealth in underserved communities. With more inclusive recruitment, our team of mortgage consultants can better recognize the challenges facing our potential customers in these unique markets. As a result, we can build bridges to increase access and meet the home lending needs of these diverse communities. It is my sincere belief that every borrower counts, and we must rise to serve them where they are. What are some practical take- aways you have learned from your organization's own D&I initiatives or programs? What changes have you implemented due to those findings? Leadership buy-in is necessary, as change starts from the top. We created a Diversity & Inclusion Committee that includes some of our executives and managers. For us, it is not about checking a box. We know these efforts matter, and we have seen the benefits of having an increasingly diverse workforce firsthand. What D&I lessons have emerged from the challenges of the pandemic? It is interesting that, for years, we have had worker supply- related issues where demand ex- ceeded supply in the job market, particularly for skilled jobs. Yet, companies really did not start wrapping their arms around the talent crunch until the pandemic, when we saw how many people were resigning and finding new jobs during The Great Resignation. It really opened the business world's eyes to the fact that candidates are truly in the driver's seat. Candidates want greater flexibility in when and how they work. They want to work for companies that have an identifiable mission and are making a social impact. They want to work for "employers of choice" that create strong missions by driving D&I initiatives, while aiming to achieve financial success for themselves and their stakeholders. The Great Resignation has taught us that: » We must offer greater flexibil- ity to employees. They want to work on their terms, and not that of their employer. » A company's D&I and social impact initiatives are impor- tant to people. The companies that drive social impact and D&I are going to be employ- ers of choice. If candidates are in the driver's seat and want to work for those companies, then creating an environment that fosters D&I is good from a talent acquisition perspective. » Companies that implement effective D&I initiatives are often more successful, as there are so many benefits that diverse teams bring to an organization. Becoming a welcoming and open place to work for everyone is simply good for business. For a company that is looking to build an internal commit- ment to D&I, where should they begin? Companies should begin by learning what D&I is and why it matters. There are a lot of resources online and company case studies. LinkedIn also offers free courses on the subject. From there, companies should create a business case with data and specific case studies to show how D&I initiatives can have a positive impact on their business. This will help others more easily understand what is to gain, and help to secure that important internal commitment and leader- ship buy-in. Companies should also consid- er doing an analysis of what has worked and what is happening in their organization today. We are learning that a lot of com- panies are stronger in D&I than they thought … they just never tracked it. Some companies may find they already have a diverse workforce, but they have not supported it the way they should or never differentiated it enough. In those cases, the companies can analyze the good they have done, and determine how to best support their diverse employees moving forward. At Guild Mortgage, we listen to our diverse employees to understand how we can best support them, as well as our diverse client base. Understanding a diverse homebuyer's loan pro- gram needs and how to provide the most effective homebuyer education resources continues to be a top focus for us. To reach new and diverse markets of prospective homebuyers, it can require a grassroots and commu- nity-based approach. We need to understand these differences to create the right support structure for our Loan Officers serving diverse markets. As we move forward, diversity is an essential ingredient to grow a strong and inclusive team and an organization that is built to last. A diverse lending strategy expands our market potential, while positively impacting under- served communities. "It is my sincere belief that every borrower counts, and we must rise to serve them where they are." —Victoria Garcia DeLuca, VP of Marketplace Diversity Strategy, Guild Mortgage

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