Opinion: How to attract and retain women in mortgage

The mass exodus from COVID-19 could have long-term implications on the number of women in leadership roles

Women have, undoubtedly, made great strides in earning coveted leadership positions in the workplace. According to data from McKinsey and’s 2021 Women in the Workplace Study, the share of women in senior vice president and C-suite positions has grown in recent years – up six percentage points for SVP roles (23 to 29%) and four percentage points for C-suite roles (17 to 21%) between 2015 and 2020.

While this data is promising, for many women in corporate America, their future in the workplace hangs in the balance due to the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on them. As women often bear the brunt of unpaid domestic work, child and elder care, and schooling from home due to pandemic lockdowns — all while trying to juggle their careers — they have reported feeling higher levels of burnout than their male counterparts.

In fact, the same McKinsey and study revealed that one in three women have even contemplated downshifting or leaving the workforce altogether (and, nearly 1.8 million of them have already left). This mass exodus could have serious, long-term implications on the number of women in leadership roles.

While we cannot flip a switch and undo the damage done overnight, we can and should be mindful of these statistics and take actionable measures to promote and attract women to a career in the mortgage industry in addition to retaining women within our own workplaces.

How can we attract and retain women?

As a woman leader in the mortgage industry — an historically male-dominated field — I, along with my colleagues, understand how critically important it is to foster diverse and inclusive workspaces where women can thrive. And, not only is it the right thing to do, it makes good business sense: a 2019 analysis from McKinsey found that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”

We’ve put our heads together to come up with a few ways to promote the industry to women, as well as thought starters on how to retain the women already in our ranks.  

Spread the word

While not all areas of the housing sector have had a hard time attracting women – for example, the majority of today’s Realtors, 65%, are women – others have, historically, lagged behind. Unfortunately, a general awareness issue could be partly to blame.

One way to address this issue could be to increase our visibility in high school and university settings where young women are considering different career paths. Some ideas include calling up your alma mater and asking to speak to a business class about career options and your experience in the mortgage industry, sponsoring your own mentorship program at your workplace, mentoring a young woman who is interested in the mortgage industry, hosting a webinar about mortgage industry career paths and so much more.

Additionally, there are many exciting things happening in the industry that could intrigue tech-savvy students who want to work in fast-paced, innovative fields. From hybrid appraisals to AI and machine learning infused throughout the homebuying journey, the mortgage industry has a lot to offer young women.

Be visible

As a woman leader in the industry, it is crucial that you be visible — whether virtually or at in-person events — to others who could be inspired by your experience and career journey. Representation matters and being open and willing to share your experiences with others through speaking engagements at conferences or, even though posts on your own LinkedIn page could serve as source of inspiration to a young woman in your network.

For women already moving up the corporate ladder in the mortgage industry, it can be easy for them to feel like an “only” if their organization is lacking women leaders at the top. Hearing your story could be a difference maker for them and encourage them to keep climbing the ladder.

Show up for women

For women, mentorship, sponsorship and allyship is key to making their experiences in the workplace more enjoyable (and equitable). First, understanding the difference between the three is key:

Mentorship. Dedicating your time and sharing career wisdom with a mentee — either through regular meetups or, on a more informal basis — can make a big, lasting impact on their life. I’ll never forget some of the sage advice my mentors shared with me over the years. And the best part about mentorship? It’s a two-way street. Mentors can also gain a lot from a mentee’s perspective, too.

Sponsorship. Have you ever heard the saying “surround yourself with people who would mention your name in a room full of opportunities”? That, in a nutshell, is sponsorship. If you are already in a leadership role and serve in a mentorship capacity to another young woman, be sure to promote and amplify her good work to others who could have a hand in supporting her next big career move.

Allyship. Having strong allies at work can help boost the morale of women employees on the receiving end of that support. Being an ally, or “a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity or struggle,” per Merriam-Webster, is often used to describe a scenario when a person who is not a member of a marginalized group vocalizes and offers support to that group. Being a vocal ally to women and women of color, and speaking up when you witness microaggressions taking place, is key to “showing” and not just “telling” someone you are their ally.

What’s more, allyship is more important than ever to women of color: according to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Study, “when women of color have strong allies at work, they are happier in their jobs, less likely to be burned out and less likely to consider leaving their companies.”

Amy Daniel is a senior vice president within ServiceLink’s Default Division.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Amy Daniel at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at [email protected]

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