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Diversity and inclusion goals need to be a ‘stretching target’ – Accord Mortgages video

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  • 18/05/2023
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Diversity and inclusion goals need to be a ‘stretching target’ – Accord Mortgages video
Aims to make the mortgage sector more diverse and inclusive require a moving target as progress will take time.

In a video panel debate, Clare Beardmore, director of Legal and General Mortgage Club, said: “It does feel like good things are being done but what are the results? And have we gone far enough? I don’t think we’ll ever go far enough, because as soon as we achieve one target, we should be setting a stretching target and going again. 

“I think we’ll know if we’ve done enough when we’re not talking about it anymore… within us, within our culture, it is when what we do and how we speak and act… is naturally very inclusive.” 

She said the “right people” were championing diversity and inclusion too, adding: “White, middle-aged males are putting their hands up and saying this needs to be looked at, rather than just me who’s female and affected.” 

Jeremy Duncombe, managing director at Accord Mortgages, said progress was slow and the first part was awareness. 

“That’s the starting point. A lot of people were coming into this naively thinking there isn’t a problem. What the studies from AMI [and] what IMLA have been involved in raised – first of all the issues, made people aware – and then said ‘so, what are you going to do about it?’” 

 

 

He said Accord launched its first inclusion charter with a standard for how its colleagues and broker partners should act. It also offers a contact point for people to call out poor behaviour on its website. 

Stephanie Charman, strategic relationships director at Sesame Bankhall Group, said there had been “small progress” across the industry and added that younger representation was also important. 

“That’s one area we do need to work on, how we bring new talent and new energy into the industry because they will bring their thoughts, their views, their beliefs with them and make us act.” 

 

Rethinking recruitment 

Beardmore said one big change that had been made within Legal and General was to how it recruited people and this included the introduction of blind CVs. 

She said: “It absolutely draws your eye to what they’re saying, not who they are.” 

Beardmore also said the firm also made its recruitment panels more diverse. 

Duncombe added: “When it comes to diversity and inclusion, it’s about equity and equality because some people do need more help. We need to get a more diverse workforce coming through. 

“We’ve started to look earlier on in our recruitment process. Most lenders and most firms have a lack of diversity at more senior levels, and that’s not something you’re going to change overnight, but your early recruitment policy and bringing people through and giving colleagues opportunities for more senior roles.” 

He said Accord changed the way it interviewed and based assessments on people’s strengths by asking how they would tackle a problem rather than looking at their previous experience. Duncombe said this would give an insight into how people may work when given the opportunity. 

“We’re seeing [the] ethnicity improve across the more senior grades and there’s still more work to do. I’m not sitting here saying job done but it’s progress and we’re starting on it.” 

This is the second in a series of four videos by Jeremy Duncombe, managing director at Accord Mortgages, Clare Beardmore, director of Legal and General Mortgage Club, Stephanie Charman, strategic relationships director at Sesame Bankhall Group and host Victoria Hartley, contributing editor of Mortgage Solutions. 

Watch out for the next two episodes in the series, out next week on Mortgage Solutions.

Find the Growth series link here.

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