MReport August 2022

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18 | M R EP O RT FEATURE B rian "Woody" White serves as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Homebridge Financial Services. In his role at Homebridge, White is tasked with building the roadmap to ensure Homebridge is an industry leader in focusing on diversity and inclusion internally, as well as cham- pioning outreach to underserved communities. Before he began his new role, White served as the Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer for Homebridge. He also served in similar capacities for Countrywide, Credit Suisse, Sallie Mae, First Union, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). At Homebridge's dedicated D&I page ( about-homebridge/diversi- ty-and-inclusion), White's team has laid out four areas the orga- nization's Office of Diversity & Inclusion is initially focusing its efforts on: 1. Educating the public about homeownership 2. Enhancing first-time home- buyer program offerings 3. Establishing relationships with community groups focused on housing 4. Identifying, recruiting, and hiring diverse talent across the company 5. Improving vendor diversity MReport had a chance to chat with Woody recently to discuss his role in fostering D&I efforts at Homebridge and the progress he has witnessed in the indus- try in the area of diversity and inclusion. How did your role as a D&I exec come about with Homebridge Financial Serices? I served as a Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer for more than 30 years. I had been talking to leadership about issues around diversity over the years. In 2020, we had a more detailed conver- sation, and I decided to retire from IT. In previous jobs that I've had, whether it be at Credit Suisse, First Boston, Sallie Mae, Countrywide, it didn't matter—I was pretty much the only Black executive there. Being the only Black person in the room has two flavors. At some compa- nies, for example, Homebridge, Corestates Bank, Sallie Mae, I was literally the only Black in the room as an executive/senior manager. At larger companies such as Aetna, Countrywide, Credit Suisse, I was the only ranking person in IT, but there were one or two other senior Black executives maybe in HR or Accounting … but still enough to count on one hand. So, over the years, I've experienced some really, really bad programs that were rolled out, as well as some good ones. I just decided to take that experience and move it into this space. In addition to that, in my own community, I've been doing a number of things, such as finan- cial planning training. I used to be a certified financial planner, so I would do things like that in the community, work to help people understand how to get mortgages. The two aspects finally just kind of came together. If you go out and pick a random company, there's a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion. But if you ask, "Please give us information on your actual demo- graphics inside your company," you'll just hear crickets. Nobody wants to do it. There are compo- nents of Dodd-Frank that were drafted by Maxine Waters, and she was specifically brought in to draft a component that asked public companies to start sharing their diversity information pub- licly. Very few do it. As a matter of fact, I only know of one public company that does it, and it's Apple. You can go to Apple, and you can see the details. I think Homebridge has a pretty good story. Is it perfect? No. Diversity and inclusion and equity is a journey for every company. I thought we were in a good position to communicate our journey and status, and that's why I created our community. What are the 2-3 most critical considerations when working to build and foster D&I when it comes to internal team morale, employee de- velopment, and talent acquisition? # 1 First and foremost, execu- tive management and senior leaders have to be 100% behind the DE&I initiative. Not lip service, but at the uncomfortable, think tank, and flexible level. If the senior managers are not fully on board, the resulting efforts will be lightweight, feel-phony solutions that will be ignored by the associates. This executive level 'Embrace the Journey' Brian "Woody" White of Homebridge Financial Services discusses how he shifted from focusing on tech to D&I and what mortgage companies need to consider when building their own D&I programs. By David Wharton The Team Issue

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