Oct. 2015 - Diversified We Stand, Divided We Fall

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18 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The court concluded that disparate impact claims can legally be brought about under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This ruling will allow courts to hold defendants liable for the discrimi - natory effects of their actions. Mixing it Up T he American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC), a Five Star Institute Member organization, is comprised of ex - ecutives from various mortgage companies and aims to shape the diversity agenda. The council, launched in June 2015, was created to drive results that support the application and promotion of the mortgage indus - try's best diversity practices, and advancing solutions that support initiatives outlined by Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act. "The dialogue around diver - sity in the mortgage industry has not been advanced the way it needs to be," explained Five Star Institute President and CEO Ed Delgado. "Five Star was presented with a tremendous opportunity to fill a leadership void and we will work with our industry partners to set the bar for diversity in the industry." Michael Ruiz, Director of Corporate Procurement with Fannie Mae and chairman of the AMDC for the 2015-2017 term, be - lieves that companies could benefit from diverse practices within their businesses and the changes that the AMDC seeks to create within the industry. "A diverse company is one that assembles a talent pool across all levels that is rich in all of the traits listed above, and embraces the concept of diversity as a key component of its busi - ness strategy, leveraging diversity in order to improve business outcomes," Ruiz said. He further explained, "I am firmly convinced that the develop - ment of effective and sustainable diversity and inclusion practices is a high-value exercise for all involved; corporations, diverse-owned sup - pliers, and communities served and sustained by the activities of the mortgage industry." As chairman, Ruiz hopes to develop a consensus framework for the adoption and implementa - tion of impactful strategies and practices that deliver tangible benefit to all stakeholders, and also engage and activate senior leaders across the industry to become true champions of diversity, both within their organizations and their spheres of influence. Fannie Mae also has a multiyear diversity and inclusion strategy that is sup - ported by three pillars: workforce, workplace, and marketplace. However, Ruiz also noted that the AMDC's commitment to diversity and inclusion practices is not compliance-driven and these practices are of value to all, especially in lieu of the changing demographics of communities and markets served by AMDC members. "There is no 'one size fits all' approach to diversity and inclu - sion, but we should collectively be able to agree on definitions of successful activities and desired outcomes," Ruiz said. One AMDC member, Cheryl Travis-Johnson, COO at VRM Mortgage Services, feels that the idea of diversity is often con- fused with affirmative action, but says that "diversity is having an environment where all people have equal access to opportunities with businesses and organiza - tions in terms of employment and also from a supplier sourcing AMDC member Vladimir Bien-Amie, CEO and president Global DMS, holds a meeting with senior account manager Sandi Lopez.

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