MReport July 2017

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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18 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY of diversity and best company practices used in the mortgage industry, including getting buy-ins from top leadership, integrat- ing principles of inclusion in recruiting and hiring, and the importance of data in assessing the impact of diversity on keeping organizations competitive. The re - port was the result of an industry roundtable with mortgage lenders and a collaboration between the CFPB's Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI). A key emphasis among the participants, who ranged from CEOs to OMWI staff from other federal agencies, could be called the mirroring strategy. Mortgage enterprises and industry leaders echoed the concept. A major business challenge is adapting to the changing demographics of the mortgage customer base. This reality underscores that "a diverse and inclusive workforce was especially important to help them attract and retain the talent and perspective they need to solve new and complex prob - lems, create innovative solutions, and improve business outcomes in face of this growing chal- lenge," according to the CFPB. "Diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice," said Charmaine Brown, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Fannie Mae. "The question is, 'How are you using diversity and inclusion to gain a sustained competitive advantage?'" Building & Tearing Down Walls T he good news in the mort- gage world is that diversity offers advantages on both sides of the equation, professional and consumer. "My inspiration comes from a belief that housing is about more than four walls and a mailbox," Robinson said. "Housing and the creation of homeowners is a fundamental part of what makes us who we are and what makes our communities strong." A more diverse workforce yields stronger performance and innovation. In 2016, minor - ity professionals at Freddie Mac expanded to 51 percent of the company, including an 18.2 to 22.9 percent jump among execu- tives and senior-level officials. A point of pride for Robinson is the "Vendor Academy," one of Freddie Mac's newest initiatives and its first corporate-wide push to grow and develop the businesses of minorities, women, the disabled, veterans, and the service-disabled. Freddie Mac's Office of Diversity and Inclusion has cre - ated select programs to support and develop multicultural women, with 26 at the manager and direc- tor levels participating in its first year. Roemer proudly highlights Freddie Mac's Autism Internship Program, which is designed to match the GSE's STEM business needs with the unique capabili - ties of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Since its first class of four in May 2012, Freddie Mac has welcomed 17 paid interns into the program, with nine being hired for full-time positions. "Freddie Mac works with a network of organizations to identify these talented candidates, craft job descriptions for roles to realize their full potential, and train managers to aid the interns with their adjustment to corporate life," she added. Like Winning Sports Teams F annie Mae, which estab- lished its Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 1992, "well before diversity and inclusion became sort of a 'hot topic,'" Brown added, has launched a "Courageous Conversations" initiative to strong attendance and "overwhelmingly positive" feedback. Developed largely in response to tragedies taking place throughout American cities and communities and directed by Fannie Mae's Diversity Advisory Council, the program first focused on race using Mellody Hobson's TED Talk "Color Blind or Color Brave?" Next was a conversation on dispelling myths and stereo - types associated with religion and sexual orientation. "Understanding that diversity and inclusion is an opportunity and not an obligation" encouraged Brown, who is "super-excited" about the GSE's focus on STEM and gender equity. The more than 20-year veteran of Fannie Mae finds inspiration not only in her daily mission to nurture and empower the organization's talent but also in innovative examples outside the mortgage industry. Brown is intrigued by the health - care providers' efforts to adapt to the cultural needs of patients and communities, including navigating language barriers, facilitating fam- ily, not just patient healing, and expanding waiting rooms. "I love the quote: 'People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care," Brown said. "Inclusion is a dif - ferentiator that lifts performance, and diverse and inclusive teams achieve greater results. In fact, diversity and inclusion trumps IQ. It's similar to creating win - ning sports teams. You need key ingredients to get the best result: having the right coach, the right players in the right position, a strong bench, and a playbook that's adaptable with multiple op - tions to beat the competition." Expanding Trust & Wealth T he mortgage industry should be more active on two fronts related to diversity, says D. Steve Boland, Head of Consumer Lending at Bank of America, who was re - cently named Vice Chair of the company's Global Diversity & Inclusion Council. First, it must re-earn the trust of the many diverse millennials who have turned away from the mortgage industry and financial services in the last few years. "Another issue we face as a nation—and as an industry—is the wealth gap," said the 27-year mortgage industry pro, who grew up in Florida and Jamaica. "Homeownership is one of the most powerful ways to shrink the wealth gap. Numerous studies indicate that embracing diversity contributes to income growth, job creation and increasing economic development. At the personal level, one of the best rewards of making a career in the mortgage industry is helping families and individuals build wealth." Bank of America boasts a U.S. workforce that is more than 40 per - cent racially and ethnically diverse and a global employee population that is more than 50 percent female, including nearly 40 percent of its global management team. "We know that diversity and inclusion are about more than numbers and percentages," Boland says. "We actively foster an inclu- sive environment where our em- ployees are valued for who they are and what they offer. Diversity is much more meaningful when paired with inclusion." Bank of America's D&I Development Program, a 12-month speaker series offered to nearly 70,000 employee network mem- bers and individual company contributors, experienced a 44 percent year-over-year participa- tion increase in diversity and inclusion learning in 2016 with more than 90,000 completions, according to Boland. "In 2016, we witnessed civil strife, protest, and loss of life in cities around the world," he added. "These events remind us of the importance of supporting each other—colleagues, clients, and community partners alike—under- standing that we are all affected in personal ways, and appreciating that those feelings do not pause when people come to work at the bank or do business with us." As a result, Bank of America expanded its "courageous con- versations" initiative similar to Fannie Mae's. In December, the company's National Community Advisory Council convened for a talk about social justice and racial equality that was broadcast to more than 50,000 employees and featured panelists Cornell Brooks of the NAACP, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the National Urban League's Marc Morial. Boland, who during the last 25 years has counseled and coached young adults of diverse backgrounds in their career paths, points to recent studies

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