December 2016 - Getting Serious About Diversity

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18 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY Shaping the Diversity Agenda O cwen Financial Corporation has taken an active role in further- ing diversity and inclusion in the mortgage industry over the last several years. "Diversity and inclusion are an integral part of our core values, which are built on a com - mitment to integrity and ethical behavior," said Ron M. Faris, President and CEO of Ocwen. "We respect each team member's unique char- acter and contributions." Ocwen is a member of the American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC), an independent organization formed in June 2015 with the focus of advancing the conversation of diversity and inclusion in the industry. In mid-November, Ocwen's Human Resources Leader for the company's U.S. Operations, Lola Oyewole, was named a member of the AMDC's Executive Council. "Caldwell, along with our senior leadership team, sets the tone of diversity and inclusion throughout Ocwen," Oyewole said. "We are proud of the diversity and independence of our Board." Ocwen has a section on its website dedicated to diversity and inclusion that features the com - pany's four areas of focus: leadership, workforce, vendor diversity, and community engagement. "Ocwen's workforce represents varied backgrounds and experiences from throughout the world, a significant strength for Ocwen providing a competitive advantage," Faris said. "Because of our diverse workforce, we gain valuable insights from all levels of the organization that lead to better business solu - tions and more engaging work for our team members. Solid solutions come from using the talents of every individual." compliance, risk management, and service initiatives throughout all of the company's business units; helping struggling homeowners remain in their homes (Ocwen has granted more than 700,000 loan modifications since January 1, 2008); and growing the company's origination sector. "On the origination front we continue to focus on enhancing our asset generation capability," Caldwell said, "which includes completing our build-out of our mortgage lending technology with the goal of growing our lending business into a top originator and diversifying through our commercial automotive floor plan lending business." Caldwell added, "We believe non-bank servicers such as Ocwen fill an important role. A profitable, healthy, effective Ocwen is critically important to the stability of the U.S. housing market and for the non-agency RBMS market." Time's Making Changes T he diversity and inclusion landscape in the industry in 2016 is quite different from 1987 when Caldwell's journey in the industry began. Through it all, she has been what she calls a "participant observer" to the seis- mic shift that has taken place. At the forefront of the change in the last 30 years has been the evolution of the industry from meeting mandated diversity quo - tas—"checking a box to hit certain diversity goals," as Caldwell puts it—to seeing diversity as a busi- ness imperative. In other words, diversity and inclusion used to be something that companies were required to practice, and now it is simply the right thing to do for business. "As others have tried to emulate those tools of success, it feels like in the last decade we've hit a tip - ping point, and that has become, in my view, more commonly accepted than it was years ago," Caldwell said, adding that diver- sity in business, "delivers benefits to customers, employees, share- holders, and that there's a lot of business value in having diverse perspectives around any table, whether it's at the boardroom or at the customer-facing level. I think it's been just a tremendous change throughout the industry." Diversity and inclusion are particularly critical for the mortgage industry because hous - ing comprises such a large piece of the economy—after all, a home is considered to be a key compo- nent in wealth-building for U.S. citizens. For many, it will be the largest financial asset they own. "It is a tangible asset that cross- es a wide swath of the country," Caldwell said. "I think among industries, it is very, very impor- tant that this industry reflects the customers and the population in which we serve." Diversity is not only the right thing to do in the mortgage industry, Caldwell said, but it also makes economic sense if you are going to serve a diverse customer base—which the population of first-time home buyers in the coming years is expected to be. And simply understanding di - versity will not be enough as the industry serves a diverse popula- tion from origination on through the housing life cycle. "It's not only understanding diversity, but really embrac- ing it and having the workforce and the leadership reflect the people that are going to be buying houses, taking out mortgages, and refinancing homes is critical," Caldwell said. 'A Virtuous Circle' D iversity and inclusion have notably become an area of focus for many companies in all in- dustries in the past decade, and the mortgage industry is no exception. "We've figured out that not only do you need to have a diverse employee base that reflects the customers in which you serve, but you need a culture of inclu - sion to allow those voices to be heard," Caldwell said. But even with all the progress the mortgage industry has made, Caldwell said there are still more work that needs to be done. "I think most companies are making strides," Caldwell said. "You have to continue to work at it. Diversity and inclusion are not easy, and so I think it's something where we will always have to be working, but as long as we stay focused on doing the right thing for customers, it will make business sense. I think if we start to see more people, more women and people of color in leadership positions, it helps build the pipe - line. As you build the pipeline, you create more momentum for change in organizations." The pipeline is not built by

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