MReport July 2017

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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10 | TH E M R EP O RT TAKE 5 M // Why is diversity in hiring important to the housing industry? WOODWORTH // It sounds simple, but it's just the right thing to do. Beyond that, there's real business value. Gaining addi- tional perspectives about custom- ers and markets that may be underserved can give companies in the mortgage finance and real estate industry a broader assess- ment of how well they serve their customers. When your employee base reflects the diversity of the housing market, you'll be more competitive. An inclusive work- force has been found to increase overall performance and create a more positive and productive workplace. It makes sense; when employees feel valued for their uniqueness and what their talent brings to the company, they tend to be more engaged and remain with the company longer. M // What does a diverse workforce look like for today's mortgage companies? WOODWORTH // Mortgage finance and real estate companies need every edge to be competi- tive. A diverse workforce that is representative of today's housing market and operates in an inclu- sive environment tends to foster fresh thinking and innovation. True inclusiveness reaches beyond the ethnicity to include gender, LGBTQ populations, people with disabilities, and military veterans. It's hard to imagine a company or industry that would not be interested in expanding the market for their products and services, and that's exactly what embracing diversity and inclusiveness can do. M // What can companies in the mortgage industry do to further the diversity of their organizations? WOODWORTH // The industry is making progress. Several compa- nies in the mortgage finance and real estate industry were listed on Fortune's 50 Best Workplaces for Diversity in 2016, but there's still work to do. Organizations and their leadership teams need to be willing to listen—to emphasize establishing workplace environments where different points of view are valued and respected. The best companies and organizations are already well down this path and have imple - mented business plans that include initiatives focused on driving and enhancing diversity and inclusion. M // Where is diversity lacking in mortgage and housing? WOODWORTH // There has been improvement overall since Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created regulations for servicers and ven - dors. The mortgage industry is a risk-based, data-driven community that tends to favor evolution over revolution, but there seems to be growing momentum within the industry to accelerate innovation across all aspects of the mortgage continuum. Diversity and inclu - siveness can help with that, and the most competitive companies realize this. That said, there are still opportunities to enhance how the mortgage finance and real estate industry serves the needs of today's borrowers and homebuyers. M // How can the mortgage finance industry better serve the diverse populations of our country? WOODWORTH // The companies that do not find ways to bet- ter serve today's diverse housing market are going to struggle, so the industry momentum on this front will only continue to ac- celerate. The race is on to crack the diversity code. One of the most impactful mechanisms for facilitating diversity is to embed it into your management teams and project-level teams in every business or organizational function, from procurement and recruit - ing to product development and customer service. The good news is there are a variety of training programs available to help, as well as opportunities to partner with groups that promote diversity, like the American Mortgage Diversity Council and National Association of Women in Real Estate Business. The Right Thing to Do Expanding housing opportunities for underserved communities all starts from within. What can mortgage companies do to diversify their own workforces and promote more inclusiveness? Diversity is a hot-button issue in housing as of late. Dozens of initiatives, groups, and organizations are pouring their all into improving housing opportunities and expanding credit access for the market's underrepresented demographics. What's more, many movers and shakers in the industry are approaching it from the other end—in the hiring process. By diversifying their workforce, mortgage's top organizations can better serve the diverse populations they're targeting. Ashley Woodworth, VP of Product Management at First American Mortgage Solutions, boasts nearly two decades in the industry.In addition to leading the company's product and marketing strategy, she also plays an important role in First American Mortgage Solutions' recruitment efforts and internal communications, which each include a significant emphasis on fostering a culture based on diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.

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