MReport April 2017

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Page 19 of 67

18 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE W hat can you buy for 19 cents? Ac- cording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1979, women made 62 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. By 2015, this had risen to 81 cents for every man-earned dollar. That's an improvement of just 19 cents in 36 years. At that pace, women won't reach pay equity with men until 2033—another 16 years. That puts us a decade behind the U.K., according to one recent study, and ranks us 20th out of 30 countries in Bank of America/ Merrill Lynch's 2015 Transforming World Atlas report. Worse yet, the bureau's figures may be too generous. More recent data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research suggests that women in the United States earn only 78.3 cents for every man-earned dollar and won't achieve pay equity until 2058. Pay equity for women and un - derrepresented minorities is closely linked with their level of represen- tation in the workforce, which is one reason why 2010's Dodd-Frank Act included language that encour- ages federal agencies to assess the diversity policies and practices of the entities they regulate, including banks and mortgage lenders. The correlation between employee pay equity and diversity in a com- pany's executive ranks is especially strong because executive leaders in general—and chief executives in particular—wield great influence over recruitment, hiring, compen- sation, and other diversity and inclusion practices within their organizations. Unfortunately, our progress toward a more diverse execu- tive landscape has been abysmal. In fact, the percentage of female CEOs actually dropped in 2016 compared to the previous year, and it was already incredibly low to begin with. When it comes to the mortgage industry and other parts of the financial services sector, women and minorities are even more un- derrepresented. According to the Government Accountability Office, as of 2013, women hold about a quarter of senior management jobs in financial services, and of those women, 86.5 percent are white. Statistics from the Urban Institute's Housing Finance Policy Center show that women make more reliable mortgage-holders than men. And according to Fannie Mae, new household formation will be driven chiefly by ethnic and racial minorities in the coming years. How can our industry expect to understand and adapt to the needs of the next gen- eration of homebuyers when our workforce is such a poor reflection of the borrowers we serve? Over the years, speakers and authors have coached women that they can succeed despite stagger- ing inequities if they would only stand up, speak up, take initiative, lead like a man (or better yet, like a woman), take back their power, know their worth, or just "lean in." While I believe such guidance is generally well intentioned, it's simplistic to think that if you're dissatisfied with your lot, you merely haven't leaned in enough. These same messages get repack- aged over and over, and mean- while, the progress we've made as a society remains woefully quan- tifiable: just 19 cents in 36 years. Findings from a November 2014 Pew Research survey may explain why so few women are CEOs. According to the study, most people recognize that men and women make equally good leaders (though stigmas persist around certain industries), and many respondents even believe that having more women leaders would benefit the businesses they serve and society at large. Yet, ac- cording to the Fortune article, "cor- porate America still isn't ready" to hire women for top executive positions: "Even in 2014, some 50 percent of women and 35 percent of men agree that many business- es aren't ready to hire women for top executive positions." And so the underrepresentation continues. Survey findings like these clearly convey a problem that "leaning in" can't solve: There is resistance by those in powerful positions to promote women. Yes, women need to persist in their determination, but you can't get through the door if it's being held shut from the other side. In other words, it's not that women aren't ready for leadership roles—it's that many of today's companies and CEOs need to shift their thinking. We are asking the wrong question when we entreat women to look within themselves for the answers. Instead, we should be asking companies and executives what steps they are taking to get ready for greater inclusion. Those in positions of power— company executives, board mem - bers, and those who sit on hiring and risk committees—must make a conscious decision to act differ- ently. If they choose to do it, these leaders can accelerate pay equity, exert enormous influence over hir- ing, and insist on diversity in their executive teams. Their actions or inactions will shape the focus and success of their companies and The Future Is Female And male. And a rich mix of races and ages. A brighter future for the mortgage industry, where the leaders are representative of the borrowers they serve, depends on embracing diversity, inclusivity, and pay equity—now. By Debora Aydelotte

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