Speaking on the Diversity and Inclusivity Finance Forum (DIFF) podcast for May, Mobeen Akram, national new homes director at Mortgage Advice Bureau, was asked about the lack of Pakistani Muslim women holding leadership roles in the UK, particularly in certain industries.
Akram said it was likely due to different communities seeing some jobs as more attainable and aspirational than others.
Akram spoke of her niece, who she encouraged to get into mortgage advising during the pandemic after she struggled to find a job after completing her psychology degree. She said her niece’s personality was a good fit for the job because she had the right skill set, and this highlighted the industry’s need to widen its talent pool.
She added: “We need to do more in the industry to attract people from different backgrounds. If we do that, it’s great not only for our community locally, but also for our business overall, because we’re attracting different customers, which is more profitable for us.
“But we need to invest internally first to attract the right talent.”
Ian Andrew, managing director, intermediary sales at Nationwide, said role models were also effective.
He said: “We’re starting to see some tremendous female role models coming through the industry. Some of our biggest distributors now have female leadership. Nationwide just appointed Debbie Crosbie as its new chief executive. She starts later this quarter.
“So we’re starting to see some real role models coming through in terms of females. And we could probably do with a little bit more of that in the ethnicity side as well.”
Akram agreed, mentioning Esther Dijkstra at Lloyds Banking Group as an example.
“That’s such a great inspiration to all of us as women as you see more females in the industry at senior levels. Even small time me, had to be a role model for my niece to say ‘actually, you can make it in this industry… if you work hard, you’re devoted, you can get somewhere’.
“That actually has a huge impact, more than we think it does, because it’s inspirational and it motivates us to be the best of who we are and to bring our true self to our workplace,” she added.
Andrew said he believed in hiring the best person for a job, but sometimes the lack of diversity was obvious.
Making an effort
Andrew said Nationwide was “early to the party” when it came to diversity and inclusion. He had his first session on unconscious bias six years ago, which in “the mortgage industry terms was probably relatively early.”
The mutual also has community champions to improve diversity and inclusion.
Andrew said part of learning about representation was “holding a mirror up”
“I thought a great example of that was the report produced by the Association for Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) last year, which was really interesting, if uncomfortable reading.
“Hopefully, that did force people to have a look in the mirror and think ‘are me or my staff behaving in that way?’ because it was a real challenge reading through some of that report,” he said.
Nationwide also asked for permission to use the report within its business to identify behaviours and challenges in the market.
Andrew said initiatives like the AMI report and DIFF were examples of progress being made in the sector.
He added: “I think there’s a momentum building up. That won’t stop. Everybody understands the importance of it. And I think that’s starting to happen across the industry as well.”
Listen to the podcast [24:30] featuring Mobeen Akram, national new homes account director at Mortgage Advice Bureau and Ian Andrew, managing director, intermediary sales at Nationwide.