The publication of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries’ Viewpoint report on diversity, inclusion and equity in the mortgage industry marks the first small step of our journey to promote conversation and spur positive change. Our sincere thanks to Aldermore and Virgin Money whose support for this work and whose commitment to making our industry more equitable for all cannot be overstated. Moreover, the wealth of support from the industry, from people at all levels of organisations, is proof of the number of people listening, who recognise the need for change, the need to value differences.
Diversity refers to the full spectrum of differences and similarities between individuals and includes things such as values and beliefs, life experiences and personal preferences. Inclusion refers to the overall culture of an organisation – the actions it takes – to ensure that all individuals feel welcome, supported and valued as members of the team. An inclusive culture brings a number of benefits to a firm. Putting aside the moral reasons, diverse businesses perform better: they achieve better financial results; are more innovative and creative; and are more attractive to future employees.
Building good relationships with customers is fundamental for advice firms. It’s important that firms reflect both the customers and society that they serve at all levels of the organisation, to ensure that customers’ needs are fully understood and can be met, both now and in the future. This needs to permeate our whole sector.
43% of respondents to our survey agreed that the mortgage industry attracts a workforce that represents the diversity of the whole community. 38% agreed that diversity and inclusion are taken very seriously across the mortgage industry. 39% agree that leadership is held accountable for achieving diversity, inclusion and equality across the mortgage industry. Whilst these figures, and the quotes from survey respondents detailing issues and behaviours faced in our industry, show that there is a long road ahead of us, there are also positives to take from the research. Everyday workplace experiences are mainly positive and many respondents reported feeling included at work. Significantly, 82% of survey respondents stated that they believe that improving diversity, inclusion and equality in the mortgage sector is important. The Viewpoint report is full of lots of suggestions of ways that we can all start to do this – both practical actions that can be taken by firm leaders as well as smaller changes that we can all make ourselves. We all need to look at these actions and see what we can do to embrace inclusion.
At AMI, our work does not stop with the publication of this report. We have a responsibility to help our sector build an environment that values differences and listens to all voices at the table. We’ll take an internal look to see what changes we can make to our structure and approach to ensure that diverse voices are heard. And we’ll work with firms, lenders and other trade bodies to share knowledge and good practice. We need to listen and drive change. Changing culture takes time and we ask all firms to join us on this journey, to ensure that our industry is fit for the future, attractive to new generations of brokers, and able to understand and meet the needs and requirements of all our future customers, whoever they are.
Lucy Lewis, AMI Senior Policy Adviser