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Freddie Mac names chief diversity and inclusion officer

Wendell Chambliss will take over for Dionne Wallace Oakley, who has been in the role since August 2021

Freddie Mac today named Wendell Chambliss, its top counsel for affordable housing goals, as chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Chambliss will assume the role April 11. Chambliss will take over for Dionne Wallace Oakley, who has been balancing the diversity and inclusion role as well as her duties as chief human resources officer since August 2021.

Chambliss is currently the deputy general counsel for mission and anti-predatory lending at the enterprise. In that role he gives legal and regulatory advice on activities connected with fulfilling Freddie Mac’s mission. He also oversees Freddie Mac’s anti-predatory lending efforts.

Michael DeVito, CEO of Freddie Mac, said it was important to have a “standalone officer” for the role to enhance the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Freddie Mac has had a diversity and inclusion officer since 2018.

“This will allow us to help more families, support minority and women-owned businesses and make Freddie Mac a stronger company,” DeVito said.

Freddie Mac, in a company release, said Chambliss will be responsible for programs and initiatives to bring greater diversity, equity and inclusion to Freddie Mac, the suppliers it works with as well as its financial transactions. He will serve on Freddie Mac’s senior operating committee and will report directly to DeVito.

How lenders can continue to serve borrowers despite housing affordability challenges

Potential borrowers who’ve been priced out of the housing market need to be able to compete with an increasingly growing share of cash buyers and investors who are beating them in bidding wars.

Presented by: Finance of America

“I look forward to working with talented professionals across the company to serve our mission expansively and bring greater diversity, equity and inclusion to our company, our partners and the industry as a whole,” Chambliss said in a prepared statement.

Earlier this month, Fannie Mae announced that Sharifa Anderson would fill the newly created role of senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer. Anderson was previously the chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh.

In recent years, both of the government sponsored enterprises have stepped up efforts to improve diversity in their staffs, boards and suppliers. Freddie Mac reported in its most recent annual financial statement that more than half of its workforce identifies as racially diverse. 

Milestones in staff diversity aside, both the government-sponsored enterprises provide financing for disproportionately fewer loans to Black borrowers than to white borrowers. In 2020, according to the latest report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, 3.4% of the loans Freddie Mac acquired went to Black borrowers. At Fannie Mae, 4.0% of the loans it purchased were for Black borrowers.

The enterprises have also both struggled to further diversity in positions of leadership. A 2020 report from the Government Accountability Office found that female directors held leadership positions on the enterprises’ boards for the first time in 2019.

In a 2017 exam of the enterprises’ diversity and inclusion efforts, the FHFA wrote of the need to treat diversity and inclusion as an enterprise-level program, “not just an addition to their human resources efforts.”

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