AtClose would like to take this opportunity to revisit the topic of women leaders in the mortgage industry! Since women are frequently required or tend to work twice as hard to gain the respect of their male clients and coworkers, we do believe it is worth highlighting over and over.
Out of the S&P’s Top 500 Companies, only 6% have women as their CEO. Why is this? As experts in our industry, do we need to reach out to colleges and high schools and speak to young women as they are forming their career decisions? “Female leadership is not common. The biggest reason is that some women may feel discouraged by the ‘boys club’ atmosphere that was prevalent in the industry for so many years. Not being included for a long time can leave one disheartened,” says Keri Stichler. *
What Steps Could We Take to Encourage and Increase Female Leadership?
The first stage is to become conscious. If you don’t talk about it, you won’t be able to do anything to change it. The finest strategies to improve opportunity for women — and other groups – is to bring it up in conversation.
It is no surprise that reports continue to show us the financial services industry is a male-heavy space, but studies also show us there is a significant opportunity and benefit when encouraging a diverse work environment.
In McKinsey’s “Delivering Through Diversity” report, they found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.
So, we know that there is a disparity, and we know there is a significant benefit to closing the gap between male and female representation, now how do we go about making continuous, positive change?
How To Go About Change
When choosing people for higher positions, organizations should show an active interest in treating women candidates equally to male applicants.
Attend and provide training opportunities.
Women’s leadership may be increased by providing training for female members. Gender equality training for all team members is a transformational process that attempts to give information, strategies, and resources to help people acquire skills and make positive changes in their attitudes and behaviors. As a team, we need to attend training opportunities and take advantage of resources to promote growth.
Effective career mapping for ALL employees.
After workers finish their probation term, organizations should have a solid career mapping strategy in place.
Men and women who are assessed with equivalent talents should have equal access to development plans, stretch assignments, promotions, and networking opportunities.
Women need to become leaders for other women.
Other women need to set an example for women who are just starting out in the workforce by being open, encouraging, and collaborative.
Seek out, engage with, and serve as role models for other women.
Women may assist others in setting and achieving objectives, promoting collaboration, and devoting time to training, mentorship, and personal development.
A large number of women are not just entrepreneurs or career people—they have families, spouses, and other responsibilities. Demands from personal and professional commitments can pressure a woman to decide to focus on her business or her family. Traditional gender roles expect women to be a mother and wife, while the business requires her to be the leader and show commitment. Companies can empower women facing the decision between work or home responsibilities with more flexible polices such as work from home, child care benefits, maternity/paternity leave and listening to employee needs.
There is also a need for more mentors and sponsors encouraging women leaders. This can come from fellow women in the organization, but just as critical is the support of male colleagues and leaders. A mentorship or coaching program allows for the right support and resources to go towards cultivating talent and confidence for the future leaders.
Along the same lines we can focus on cultivating this environment of gender equality from the beginning through education. Encouraging young women to join STEM programs and learn about the increasing need for technology and innovation in financial services is the perfect opportunity to support the future female leaders into our industry.
Per Suvarna Nikam, Sr. Vice President of Human Resources at Visionet Systems,
“Challenges around less women in technology seeded from the early gaps observed in girls pursuing education in tech. Thankfully over the last decade & more we have seen conscious efforts in education across the globe to develop accessibility and affordability. Inspiring women leader role models now drives a 25-40% girl population in technology courses & it is only to increase.”
“At Visionet, we constantly endeavor & encourage women to take up leadership roles. Key positions in our Delivery & Operations, Sales & Functional leadership are held by some inspiring women who have built their careers at Visionet or have joined from the industry to take step–up roles offered to them by us. Our recruiting efforts for fresh talent campus specifically caters to having a fair & equal representation of women. Our lateral hiring efforts focus on enabling women starting their second careers by providing them an opportunity to cross skill or upskill when they come aboard.”
It is important to point out that gender diversity in leadership roles is not a company specific issue; rather it is an industry-wide challenge. Organizations have slowly started recognizing the advantages of employing more women in their leadership teams. Still more work needs to be done to ensure women’s leadership in the industry, with safe work environments, the benefits they need and positive changes regarding all unconscious biases.**