On Thursday, the second-annual Five Star Diversity Symposium  was held in Dallas, Texas. The event was a day-long event focused on advancing the conversation on diversity within the mortgage industry, and featured keynote addresses from industry leaders as well as panel discussions.
The Diversity Symposium included representatives by several key companies and government agencies within the mortgage industry, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency  (FHFA), Freddie Mac , Fannie Mae , the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas .
Topics discussed included innovation in diversity, resolving unconscious bias, and the advantage of diversity.
The day kicked off with an address from Dwight Robinson, SVP Human Resources and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Freddie Mac who shared with attendees the latest diversity and inclusion developments from the GSE and how the industry can come together to support this important conversation.
Sandra Thompson, Deputy Director of the Division of Housing and Mission Goals at the FHFA was the events afternoon keynote and spoke about the FHFA's latest diversity updates and how under-represented communities can better be served.
Michael Ruiz, Director of Supplier Diversity at Fannie Mae, led the last panel of the day titled “Diversity: The Competitive Advantage.” During the panel, industry leaders discussed how organizations benefit from engaging in a diverse supply-chain and workforce and how diversity drives the bottom line of any business and how the industry can benefit from inclusion for all.
"This topic of gender, diversity and race, we just don't talk about it very much," said Dana Dillard, EVP, Corporate Social Responsibility at Nationstar Mortgage . "I appreciate the opportunity for the mortgage people, both on the supplier side and on the servicer side to come together and continue the dialog."
Alan Young, CEO of Armor Concepts , stated one of the biggest benefits of the Symposium was the chance to have conversation.
"You realize that certain people need to be made aware of certain things." said Young. "You don't understand that there's a problem until you're made aware of it. The first step is to understand that diversity is important, and why."
What many agree makes diversity important is the improved ability for the industry to connect with a growing customer base.
"If you want to succeed in business, you have to understand your customer base," said Ed Buckley, President of Aspen Grove Solutions . Buckley participated in the panel titled "Diversity: The Competitive Advantage,” where he and other industry leaders, including Dr. Scott Vowels, Manager of Supplier Diversity at Apple, discussed the business benefits of diversity.
"It's a very basic principle," Buckley continued. "If you don't understand your customer, you have no possibility of being successful. Who can understand and translate the sense of your customer base better than people that are from that customer base?"
Julie Moran, Senior Executive Counsel of Orlans PC,  recognized the value of the conversations made during the symposium, and the "amazing talent that is brought together with this council." Moran participated in the panel titled "Inclusive Leadership: Diverse Succession Plans."
"What we have found is that multi-cultural teams bring a higher level of creativity," Moran said. "If you have an inclusive community, it excites people. They get passionate about engaging and being part of your company. We've found that it really does help us grow."