MReport August 2022

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M R EP O RT | 21 FEATURE SOMETIMES, IT'S GOOD TO BE A FOLLOWER. Follow MReport on social media to put the latest mortgage banking news, stories, strategies, and insights at the touch of your fingertips. MReport @TheMReportNews The MReport Did you have any uphill struggles getting Homebridge's D&I pro- gram moving and get- ting everyone on board to make it happen? W ell, I had already been the CIO for Homebridge and CISO for about eight years, so I had a reputation. Everybody knew if I started something, I was going to finish it. So, there was a lot of trust with me at Homebridge. But the one thing I will tell you is, you want to tell people that our senior manage- ment believes in diversity and inclusion, and they believe in the power of diversity in terms of enhancing the corporate structure and the goals. But you know what? When you're a Black person or a Hispanic person in a company where you may be the only one or two, you're very nervous about speaking up. It doesn't matter what the company says; you're nervous about speak- ing up. Sure, everybody takes classes about how "retaliation is not allowed" and things like that, but the reality is, people are still afraid of that. So, one of the things that I did was, when I took this position, I had no idea where we were as a company from a diversity stand- point. I had no idea if a Hispanic woman was in a department feeling like people are passing her by, and why isn't she moving? I had no idea. So, first, I started out with a campaign of almost four months, saying to everybody, "I'm taking over this department. I'm launching it. I'm going to do things for you to clearly under- stand that it is safe to be honest at Homebridge." Then, I launched a diversity and inclusion survey as a litmus test to see where we were. I asked a number of questions, and I explained to everybody how the anonymous process would work. And I outlined it in detail. And I would say out of 100%, I got about 78% completion rate, and it was pretty good. Were there some issues? Yeah, there were. There were some people, like I said, a Hispanic team member asking, "Why are people passing me by?" So, I knew where we needed to focus, and that's what I did. I started focusing on things related to education. I rolled out educa- tion classes around unconscious bias. All executives in the com- pany were the first to go through this program. I also put together a newsletter where I communi- cate regularly. Everybody knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what's going on in diversity and inclusion—there's no doubt about that. But I needed that survey in order to figure out if there were things going on that I was totally unaware of, as well as HR and our senior management. You also had one or two comments which people are talking about, "Why wasn't my raise bigger?" Things like that. But overall, I thought we were in a pretty good position. I thought I convinced people to be honest, that it was safe to be honest here. But to be honest with you, you have to work at that. You have to keep trying and see. People are willing to talk. People are definitely willing to provide me feedback. But I'm not sure if I asked all the right hard questions yet to see if they are 100% ready to be honest. What were some of the surprises that you encountered from that survey? S ome things were immediate- ly actionable, and it had to do with communication. In the mortgage business, it's nonstop. Everybody's trying to get a mort- gage, you know what I mean? A lot of the communication is about the mortgage process, and here and there, HR is sending some- thing out. But around the issue of diversity and inclusion, everybody was kind of clueless. I needed to immediately communicate more what it was, what it wasn't. I'll give you an example. I had an African American person

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