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Building a More Diverse Future for Housing

Continuing an annual tradition, our September issue of DS News is once again our Diversity issue, focused on exploring the business case for diversity and inclusion, as well as practical takeaways and best practices from those working in the space. We encourage you to read the full digital issue online, and to check out the American Mortgage Diversity Council to learn more about the initiatives they are championing.

In the meantime, we continue that exploration here with a conversation with several members of Radian's Inclusion & Diversity Council.

Why is I&D important to the mortgage industry?

Eric Ray, Senior EVP, Chief Digital Officer, and Co-Head of Real Estate: As a mortgage and real estate services company, our primary purpose at Radian is to ensure the American dream of homeownership responsibly and sustainably. We provide mortgage insurance and a comprehensive suite of mortgage, risk, real estate, and title services to customers across the U.S., which is becoming more racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse. These demographic changes, particularly in today’s housing market, have implications for our business, including the need to understand how inclusion and diversity, and changes in population, impact our industry, our customers, and our colleagues.

Eric Ray - Radian - 9.15.2020

Eric Ray

Anita Scott, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer: The success of our company relies on its workforce. A workforce that is intentional with its inclusive culture and diverse population is proven to be more successful, especially in representing the communities in which they serve. Simply put, it makes good business sense, internally and externally with our business partners.

MJ Watkins, Director, Corporate Relations: I believe Inclusion and Diversity is important to every industry. Specific to the mortgage industry, U.S. households are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and millennials getting ready to form new households are roughly 50% diverse. To be best positioned to address the changing demographics of the mortgage industry, an organization will need a defined strategy focused on I&D to stay current, stay relevant and meet the needs of prospective homebuyers.

Dave McCormick, SVP, Inside Sales: The foundation of the mortgage and housing industry is comprised on the broadly diverse consumer base that participates in it and drives it every day. Our customers serve the entirety of the homeownership community, and as their partner, Radian strives to support those efforts by being an industry leader on the I&D front. In doing so, we grow stronger as an organization as we create an environment that not only champions diversity, but one that draws out the best from our diverse and talented workforce by embracing a culture of inclusion so that the best ideas and innovations can be brought to bear for the betterment of our company, our customers, and our industry as a whole.

Dana Keyser, VP, HR Business Partner: In my opinion, I&D is important to all industries and businesses. As a mortgage and real estate services company, our primary purpose at Radian is to ensure the American dream of homeownership responsibly and sustainably. We do this inclusively for all and recognize the power of a talented, diverse workforce driving our business to succeed. Our employees at Radian are encouraged to share ideas and engage in collaborative problem solving, ultimately making Radian better for customers, colleagues, and shareholders.

Anita Scott - Radian - 9.15.2020

Anita Scott

Katie Brewer, SVP, Valuation Services Operations: The mortgage industry is massive and employs a substantial number of people across multiple segments. We also serve a very diverse population, and our workforce should be representative of the market we serve. Our people make the difference, and it takes diverse viewpoints, perspectives, thinking styles and backgrounds to have a rounded and meaningful vision and overall successful business. Having an inclusive and diverse workforce ensures we incorporate these perspectives into our business and the industry as a whole.

What does it mean to have a commitment to inclusion and diversity?

Ray: We launched our Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) program in 2019 with the goal of embracing a more inclusive and diverse Radian. We purposely decided to flip the order to lead with inclusion, rather than diversity, because we realize our strengths lie in the differences and the uniqueness of who we are, our thoughts and experiences, and how we approach issues. In order to truly leverage our diversity, we must be inclusive. We stand by our thinking that without inclusion, there is no diversity.

Scott: Having a commitment to inclusion and diversity is much more than checking a box or saying that you can say you have a commitment on paper. It means creating a culture of inclusion first. I believe that if you do not see people who look like you at work or who share some of your diverse characteristics you are less likely to stay engaged or less likely to pursue career growth opportunities. Having I&D as one of our strategic priorities, and setting actionable and measurable goals throughout our journey, is an important way to show our commitment and progress to the organization and our external partners.

MJ Watkins - Radian - 9.15.2020

MJ Watkins

Watkins: Having a commitment to Inclusion and Diversity is everything to me as an employee and council member. Knowing that my experiences, my ethnicity and my culture is valued, appreciated and leveraged to help the company succeed

McCormick: It means that as an organization, we are taking I&D beyond a mission statement, beyond a core value, and weaving into how we think, recruit, and operate daily. It means understanding and embracing that we always have more to learn and can always improve. It means engaging in a dialogue that runs through our organization over time, leading us down a road of continuous improvement. It results in an organization that reflects our diverse customer base and places a high value on the fact that everyone has a voice that should be heard in a continuous pursuit to reach our full potential.

Keyser: A commitment to inclusion and diversity is more than a tagline. It’s a commitment to ongoing dialogue, examining our practices to continually improve, and empowering our employees to take action in support of our inclusive culture. It means celebrating what makes each of us unique and creating an environment where all are encouraged to participate and contribute.

Brewer: Demonstrating a commitment to inclusion and diversity means leading by example in all aspects of our business. Building a diverse team, seeking out other perspectives, and including others with different experiences and backgrounds is key. By promoting an inclusive workplace environment, we leverage our entire team, which is full of diverse people, talent and ideas. It is an important part of who we are as a company, how we operate, and our long-term success.

What are your goals and what successes have you had with I&D initiatives?

Dave McCormick - Radian - 9.15.2020

Dave McCormick

Ray: The Council has developed the near-term goal to strengthen our workforce through diversity of thought and perspectives in the workplace—to be achieved through talent acquisition (sourcing from a diverse slate, hiring manager training, Employee Resource Group referrals) and talent retention and mobility (developing and advancing internal talent). The Council is charged with developing the framework for implementing and impacting inclusive initiatives, programs, policies, and processes.

In addition, our near-term goal is to broaden awareness of the issues and challenges through readings, videos, ERG formations, and creating an environment for penalty free discussions. We’ve made great progress on this. Our longer-term goal is to further sponsor, foster, and develop our I&D culture by creating a new set of cultural norms.

Scott: Our goal for the Council is around strengthening Radian by increasing diversity within our workforce and fostering an inclusive culture. Our supporting priorities revolve around furthering our partnerships with diverse talent suppliers to increase our hiring pipeline and engaging the organization in our ERG network.

Dana Keyser - Radian - 9.15.2020

Dana Keyser

Our successes are in the progress we’ve made in setting up our I&D council as well as having an overwhelming response from our organization around our impromptu “listening sessions” in response to recent community events. We have created an employee resource page on our internal portal dedicated to Inclusion and Diversity, streaming all communications, webinars, external resources for our employees to access at their interest level. I&D continues to be a strategic priority at the top of the house and the engagement from the employee base is just as strong.

Watkins: As an I&D council member, my goal is to support relevant strategies that will help Radian be a more inclusive and diverse organization. In response to the social injustice events occurring this year, the I&D council hosted two employee forums to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement. These forums were a success, allowing employees to share their personal experiences as well as enlightening colleagues about bias.

McCormick: Personally, I want to be very self-aware, and strive to be a model of inclusion and diversity when I look at my own business unit. I want to ensure that the members of my team feel heard and feel like they play an active part in in where we are going as a department and as a company. We have made a conscious effort to pull together a team that comes from varying backgrounds and experiences so that we can benefit from diversity of thought. We need to continue down that path.

Katie Brewer - Radian - 9.15.2020

Katie Brewer

Keyser: Fostering an inclusive culture is a primary goal of our I&D Council. We have seen success in our efforts to educate our workforce on diversity topics and raise awareness of other’s experiences. We’ve published a series of diversity stories on our internal Intranet site, created the corporate citizenship employee spotlight to celebrate the great work our employees are doing within the community, and recently our Council has begun hosting open discussions with our employees on diversity topics. Our employees are engaged in the discussions and openly share ideas in support of our commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Brewer: My goals are to ensure that Radian emerges as an I&D leader in the industry and sets a precedent for other businesses. Radian has always promoted a very inclusive culture and has a diverse workforce, while partnering with various trade groups that represent important diverse industry segments. This year we’ve been focusing on training for all of our team members, roundtables focusing on I&D, and creating employee resource groups for additional support and collaboration. We’ve already received lots of positive feedback and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow our efforts and focus.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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