Thoughts from black leaders on bridging the racial divide
Discouraging. Repugnant. Disorienting. Whichever way one chooses to frame the events sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police on May 25, the underlying cause is clear: America’s racial divide, a jagged, gaping and self-righteous wound. -inflicted that has been allowed to fester for centuries. , has poisoned the country.
At a time when healthcare professionals around the world come together and share resources to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, Americans cannot even come together to ensure people of color can receive a decent education or not be murdered by the police. For the supposed leader of the free world, this is a failure as colossal as it is sad and ironic; a failure which is, at this stage, taken for granted by the rest of the planet.
It is clear that America’s racial problems will not be solved by its elected leaders. And they certainly won’t be resolved on Facebook or Twitter, two companies that have made billions pumping the internet full of racist bile, then licking their chops while the data arrives. approach that forces people to have difficult discussions and constructive interactions with their loved ones – neighbors, friends, professional colleagues.
Two people using this strategy to bring more diversity to the mortgage space are WFG Lender Services Vice President of National Business Development, Monique Winston, who also heads the Cleveland Realtist Association, and Tony Thompson, Founder and CEO of the National Association of Minority Mortgage. Bankers of America. MPA spoke to Winston and Thompson on Tuesday about what organizations can do not only to ensure a diverse workforce, but also to provide opportunities for young people of color to enter an industry with which many of them had little exposure or positive experience.
Rather than filtering their thoughts through the mind of a white writer, MPA’s discussion with Winston and Thompson has been transcribed below, with some edits for length and clarity.
Monique Winston, WFG Lender Services / Cleveland Realtist Association: I’m president of the Cleveland Realtist Association, the local chapter of the National Association of Realtors. It was started in 1947. At that time the climate was different – “maybe” – and there was a need to have an organization, not only to ensure that minorities were represented in the real estate profession – which was essential, because at that time, if you were African American for example, you couldn’t be a part of NAR – but also from a home buying point of view because we were dealing with redlining , overt discrimination, lack of access to mortgages, etc. inhibited us in many ways.
Organizations contacted very, very recently – and these are large financial institutions – and they said they needed a diverse talent pool within their organization. They will say: “Monique, how do we get there? Do we go to high schools? Do we go to local colleges and community colleges? Do we go to community centers? And most importantly, can you help us understand it? So, as an organization, we do all kinds of grassroots advocacy and efforts, among other things.
Tony thompson, Founder / CEO of the National Minority Mortgage Bankers Association of America: NAAMBA, as an organization, focuses on two things: providing training, education and professional counseling to women and minorities who are currently in industry, and introduce and connect college and high school students to careers in industry and provide them with financial literacy education.
When you look at the current state of the industry, mainly on the lending side, the average loan originator is a 53-year-old white male. Every CEO in the mortgage industry said we need more young people, more diversity, but there was a lack of a vehicle to connect with the next generation and those who are in the industry right now.
MPA: Why do women and minorities need this dedicated training that you mentioned? What does this training consist of?
TT: It must be recognized that a young Latino man or woman will have different challenges than a white man or woman in our industry. A young Indian or ethnic Indonesian may have greater challenges or unique needs within their community that are important to recognize and recognize from a diversity perspective. What we’ve found, overall, is that when you talk about training and education, especially with women or minorities, you have to recognize that they need a different support mechanism in terms of in terms of how they connect, what training is given to them. as well as how you contact them to offer their mortgage loan services to the community.
MPA: How important is diversity to the success of a mortgage business?
TT: Diversity is a great thing for companies that don’t have it or want more, and if used appropriately, it can be a competitive advantage by allowing you to connect with people in your market with which you are not currently logging into, improving your business success, impacting and reaching more people from a homeownership perspective.
MW: What most businesses realize is that diversity isn’t just the right thing to do. This is the only option to make sure you are able to reach certain communities. This makes basic business sense. This world will be totally different in the years to come, so in order to reach these consumers you need to make sure they see themselves within your organization.
And we’re not just talking about racial diversity. There is age diversity, gender diversity. All of these things bring diversity of thought. And that’s what you need. You need a diversity of thought to approach everything we see in today’s society.
Diversity is simply about “partying”. Once you’ve onboarded people into your organization, how do you make sure they’re included? You have to be intentional. I think you have real recognition of that by some financial institutions that say, “We need your help”.
MPA: Many companies are taking steps to showcase their diversity now that the world is looking to see where they stand when it comes to racing in America. Do you find that the companies that contact you are sincere in their desire to diversify their workforce or is it just public relations?
MW: What I’m making very clear is that if you really want a diverse and inclusive culture, then I’m your daughter. However, if you are looking for appearances then I am the wrong person. What worries me is, are you for real? There have been those times when it’s more of a check-the-box mentality than a sincere desire to make a change.
MPA: Can you underline this lack of sincerity?
MW: The proof is always in the pudding. At first everything looks good, but you will know who the real sincere players are by their actions (or lack thereof). If you’ve set specific goals for yourself and are on your five-year plan and haven’t had any changes, it won’t take long for this to show.
MPA: What are the specific breed-related issues that affect your particular spaces in the industry? Are there any potential solutions?
MW: The homeownership rate is an important element for me. If you look at the gap between black and white homeownership, it is bigger today than it was 50 years ago. [The rate of homeownership among African Americans in Q4 of 2019 was 44% compared to more than 70% for whites.] It is more important today than it was before the passage of a fair housing law. It’s a problem, and a lot of people don’t quite understand why it’s such a problem.
A lot of the things we are dealing with have an underlying economic factor. We know that homeownership is one of the fastest ways to build generational wealth. If I have access to the property, I can take advantage of it. I can use it to start a business. I can take advantage of it to send my children to university; things that can change generational cycles.
Nationally, NAREB has something called 2Mn5, where our goal is to get two million new black owners over the next five years. This is something that particularly fascinates me because it changes generations.
TT: Our goal at NAMMBA is to make sure we can educate mortgage professionals to go out and create great experiences for the consumer so that we can also have a sustainable property. Because putting people in their homes is one thing, but making sure that we help people stay in their homes is also just as important in building community.
Our goal is to help people in this industry understand how to become a better practitioner, better advocate, and better professional, while realizing that the only way to change the homeownership rate will be through an intentional focus on one. extended period. . Just as it took the United States almost a decade to recover from the Great Recession, it will take us a decade to begin to change the appearance of diversity in this industry.
MPA: How would you rate the current level of diversity in the industry?
TT: When you look at the operations or maintenance side, you have historically seen more minorities and people of color unique to their operations. What most people don’t know is that single African American women make up a large portion of employees on the operations side. The goal is to know how to help these population groups to grow and raise their careers?
MW: When we go to high school, we can take an appraiser, a title person, a real estate agent, a home inspector – all of those different facets of the real estate industry. You would be absolutely amazed at how many students have never heard of these possible career options. It’s the next generation. If they aren’t even exposed to these potential career opportunities, how are they going to take advantage of them?
We are very intentional in going to high school and saying, “Consider this.” And when you think about it, how many of the careers I just listed can be careers that they maybe don’t have to attend a four-year institution? Again, this just creates options.
You have to be intentional. You must be. It’s something Tony and I aren’t afraid of. We don’t mind saying that we are targeting this particular population, “because we know there is a need.