[PULSE] Hiring for the sake of diversity is not enough

Mortgage & Real Estate

Today, women hold more public offices than at any point in history.

For example, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, President of Singapore Halimah Yacob – these ladies are no longer anomalies.

They are part of a trend at every level of decision making (both corporate and government) of the increasing influence women have. 

Aneeza Haleem, Guest Author

Nationally, there a slew of initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusion within the workforce. When the proportion of women in the labor force increases, U.S. GDP benefits. Some estimates suggest more women in the workforce could add nearly $6 trillion to the global stock market over the next decade. 

Within the housing and finance industries, we are seeing an uptick in female influence at every level across the spectrum of lending.

Organizations like Bank of America are leading the way in reversing this trend — women make up more than 50% of the bank’s global workforce, more than 45% of its global management team and more than 40% of managers with direct reports.

Also important are partnerships like Freddie Mac’s with iRelaunch who focus on reintroducing women to the workplace after a break in employment and internal groups like Fannie Mae’s Women’s Employee Resource Group hosts events on sponsorship, career navigation, mentorship, networking and advocating for yourself.

Similarly, we are seeing the rise of women customers. Per the New York Times, women, who make up 53.2% of the single population in 2016, are more likely to be homeowners, according to the Census Bureau. Census Bureau data also shows women outpacing single men in homeownership over the past three decades.

Women are also gaining ground as business owners. More than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017.

Add to that the $20 trillion in consumer spending decisions that women control globally and you get a sense of the power women to exert as both corporate leaders and consumers.

As more women become homeowners and business owners, our industry and housing overall will feel the effects of their increased buying power. 

With the ever-increasing demand from consumers for personalized attention and the need to cater to this growing diverse customer base, the need of the hour is for lending executives to recognize and adapt.

Diversifying your decision-makers will make your solutions resonate with this growing customer base. Attracting a diverse population to your company is one part of the equation, just as important is retaining this population. 

Hiring for diversity is not enough. To succeed, inclusion and diversity need to be woven into the fabric of our offerings. It needs to be a mindset change, not a superficial checkbox.

Aneeza Haleem is Director of Technology for Planet Home Lending. The opinions expressed here are her own.
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