MReport June 2018

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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20 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY T his year marks the 50th anniverary of the introduction of the Fair Housing Act, which pro- motes equal housing opportunities regardless of race, color, gender, familial status, or religion. The act also protects property activities such as sale, rental, and financing of real estate from discrimina- tion. From a mindset of merely complying with this act in 1968 to making diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives for equal housing a part of their business strategy, the industry has come a long way from when this act was first introduced. The business case for D&I becomes especially important in today's housing market as the homebuying population continues to become more multicultural, span new generations, and break down barriers across gender lines. Today, the industry faces a new set of questions such as what can be done to create a more inclu- sive workforce, one that not only includes individuals from diverse backgrounds, but also gives a com- petitive edge in the marketplace. Most importantly, the industry is trying to answer the question of moving beyond the organization to unlock the true value of D&I. View from the Top T he accountability to encourage the participation of a diverse workforce begins at the top, and the top management of many banks has stepped up to the plate, actively taking part in and guid- ing D&I as the overall business strategy in America and beyond. In June 2017, 175 CEOs from leading global companies signed a pledge that started a new CEO-led alliance called the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion that focuses on creating an equal workplace for all. Today, that movement has grown to include 400 leaders, with many of the signatories including CEOs of some of the biggest banks and financial institutions. These signatories have pledged to three core com- mitments: continue to cultivate workplaces that support open dialogue on complex, and some- times difficult, conversations about D&I; implement and expand unconscious bias education; and share best known—and unsuccess- ful—actions. To date, more than 400 actions were submitted across 19 key topic areas. Mary Mbiya, Director of D&I at Flagstar Bank, one of the many organizations that has signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, said, "Leadership commitment is very important to D&I, and our CEO demonstrated that by signing the pledge. This set the tone from the top, which has led to tremendous engagement by our employees." Banks like Wells Fargo are not only members of this coalition but have also supported legislations that encourage diversity beyond the workplace. "In addition to standing against the potential deportation of an estimated 800,000 young adults in the U.S., our CEO joined other business leaders in signing an open letter that supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program," shared Brad Blackwell, EVP and Head of Housing Policy & Homeownership Growth Strategies at Wells Fargo Home Lending. Lending institutions with a global reach, like Bank of America, hold the top management respon- sible for ensuring equality beyond America through D&I initiatives. "Our Chief D&I Officer Cynthia Bowman leads our Global D&I Organization (GDIO), which partners with businesses and regions to develop D&I strategies, recruit diverse talent and manage our global diversity sponsorships and partnerships," said Kathy Cummings, SVP, Homeownership Solutions and Affordable Housing Programs, Bank of America. Cummings also Chairs the American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC). The GDIO fosters employee engagement and inclusion through the management of the bank's 11 employee networks consisting of more than 240 global chapters and 100,000 memberships worldwide. "We understand to see true inclusion it's important that we have a foundation where our leaders are accountable. Everyone plays a key role, and everyone has responsibility," said Sean Grzebin, Head of Consumer Originations at Chase Home Lending. "If I were picking the one thing that's made the biggest impact, I'd say it's that emphasis on management accountability." A key aspect of management accountability is also to ensure that the message from the top trickles down the organization. At TD Bank for example D&I isn't just a "side-of-the-desk, nice-to- do activity," according to Rick Bechtel, Head of US Mortgage Servicing. "It's a collective Measuring Change Diversity cannot be beneficial unless organizations understand and implement best practices that embrace inclusion—we see how far companies have come 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was introduced. By Radhika Ojha

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