When the topic of diversity is raised in any industry, it often provokes a defensive response. The women we spoke to for this week’s cover feature had some shocking tales of chauvinism and debauchery from the pre-credit crunch era but, thankfully, the consensus is that the worst excesses of those days are behind us. However, there is still a long way to go.
Shining the spotlight on the issue of gender equality does not have to mean shaming the mortgage sector as worse than any other. It simply means that we, alongside most other trades and professions, need to look at both the under-representation of women in senior roles and the gender pay gap.
We also need to put ethnic diversity and other equal-opportunity issues on the agenda. Doing this means acknowledging the unconscious biases at play in the way we recruit and promote employees.
It also means looking at the culture and social side of the job. The only way change will happen is through openness, readiness to admit weakness and frank debate. It is clear from all the commentators we spoke to – both male and female – that nobody wants to see positive discrimination or women appointed to boards purely to make up a quota.
However, as the organisation Women on Boards points out, targets are an entirely different matter and they are already a mainstay of sound business practice. Rather than denying that our industry has a problem, maybe we should accept the need to play our part in the wider movement to bring down the glass ceiling and tackle the pay gap for women in the workplace.
Why not go further still and put our industry in the forefront of that movement? By investing in research and innovation, we could make other sectors want to follow our lead. We could improve the public image of the mortgage world and make it a career that attracts the best talent from a wide range of backgrounds.
Finally, you will have noticed that we have completely redesigned the magazine and website to improve the reading experience. We explain why in more detail on our website. We would love to hear your thoughts.