As a white male who has enjoyed the privilege of a university education, bank employment and never being out of work I am always unsure when I venture into thoughts on Equality and Inclusivity. However, I did grow up within a mile of the “base” for Trainspotting and my first pub routinely saw deeper discussions terminate when one party drew a knife or axe. I came from a good home but saw the price and consequence of poverty. The last year has made me think more deeply about the benefits I have enjoyed and those who suffer because of where they come from or who they are.
MeToo, Black Lives Matter, the Presidential election, vaccine fears and Myanmar should make us all stop and think that the world we live in is not as fair or equal as it could and should be. As someone who uses language as a core skill in the job I do on behalf of mortgage brokers, I still struggle in knowing how to frame the right thing to say, use badly constructed language and fail to see the latent and unconscious biases that prevail all around. How do we counter those who use other’s insecurities to keep them in a poor place. Listening to Dom Scott, Sidney Wager and Damian Thompson describe their journeys, fears, thinking and hopes has helped me realise that despite having been an advocate for equality for decades I have been little more than a passenger on the bus.
If asked to recount one tangible thing that I have done to make a real difference, then I have in all honesty a pretty empty bucket. That is not because I have ignored issues or failed to address injustice, but that in retrospect I have never done enough. Am I sexist, racist, homophobic or dismissive? I hope that those who know me would say no. l do not think I am. I do not consider that I have ever avoided talking to, engaging with, supporting or picking for a role because of who a person is. But I have hidden behind the best person for the job approach to recruitment. The last year has opened me up to thinking about the best person for the team. Or should we be thinking about the best person for the company or even more radically the best person for society?
I have been involved in gender equality initiatives at work since the 1980s. I recently heard the new FCA Chief Executive say that they had just about got that sorted in their organisation , but they were way off on all the other aspects of Inclusivity and Equality. UK society has still not sorted gender equality as the data on gender pay gap shows. That means to me all the other stuff is still not even properly on the table never mind sorted. We need more tangible measures and targets on all things.
I am fortunate enough to enjoy seven grandchildren. I watch them growing, talking and interacting with no prejudice or bias. Until it is conditioned in. As we see technology develop and we all mesh in the global village connected by rapid communication ability in the palm of our hands – injustice is harder and harder to hide and justify. I want to create a society which my grandchildren want to grow up as active partners where all of society has a fair shot at life. I would like to ensure the mortgage sector is one where they want to engage either in employment or as a customer as they see it as all-embracing and representative of the society they want.
AMI will be doing work on this in 2021. Because people who I hope are my friends have been brave enough to bare their souls, talk about their lives and experiences. People who have found a way to a form of success that needs to be shared with others. Inclusivity and Equality needs allyship, partnership and feeding. Before I shuffle off the mortgage stage, I would like to think I have something to put in my bucket that will keep me warm in the dark winters by helping firms make some tangible changes to how they embrace society in its widest sense.
Chief Executive, AMI