Diversity in mortgage industry recruitment 'vital', says Hays

Why diversity and inclusion are good for business

Diversity in mortgage industry recruitment 'vital', says Hays


By Ryan Johnson

With the shift to flexible workforce continuing after the pandemic, mortgage industry leaders need to embrace diversity and inclusion to remain an attractive employer, according to leading global recruitment agency Hays.

The nature of the way Australians work has changed considerably over the past few years. A Finder study showed nearly six million Australians worked remotely in 2022, with 65% of respondents saying their workplace has a remote working policy.

While unemployment has risen in the past few months, it is coming up from historic lows and the market is still widely considered to be an employee’s market.

Kathryn Carson (pictured above left), regional director of recruitment and workforce solutions specialist at Hays, said employers need to take note of the industry trends when it comes to recruitment and retention.

When managed with an inclusive approach, Carson said the shift towards remote work and increased flexibility can positively influence workforce diversity as it “broadens the candidate pool”.

“It does still depend on individual employers, and whether they create a strong sense of inclusion and belonging within their remote and hybrid workforce,” said Carson.

“Overall, increased flexibility can positively influence diversity by allowing employers to consider candidates who require flexible schedules or who are unable to commute into an office five days a week from nine to five.”

Why diversity and inclusion are good for business

While some leaders have taken to improving their recruitment processes, the mortgage industry in general has a long way to go when it comes to embracing diversity.

Female representation among brokers dropped to 25.4%, according to the MFAA Industry Intelligence Service 15th Edition report – the lowest level since the measure was introduced in 2017.

Of course, diversity and inclusion does not just factor in gender representation nor is it exclusive to the industry.

Hays Diversifying Diversity report showed diversity among leaders in Australia and New Zealand was low across, disability, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

What’s important to note is that diversity and inclusion strategies are not just positive public relations – they actually drive success.

Organisations with more gender diversity in their executive team were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability while those that are in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those below by 36%, according to Hays FY2023/24 Salary Guide.

Fiona Russell (pictured above right), Hays senior manager - banking, insurance, and financial services, said ensuring businesses had a diverse and inclusive workforce was “vitally important” as it could lead to more well-rounded and informed decisions, innovative solutions, better problem solving and an improved market reputation.

“Furthermore, mortgage brokers serve a wide range of clients from various backgrounds. A diverse workforce can better understand and cater to their unique needs and preferences,” Russell said.

Carson agreed, saying that creating a diverse workforce could even positively impact service quality for mortgage brokerages.

“A more diverse workforce helps create diversity of thought, and helps brokers better appreciate different cultural nuances and help clients to feel more comfortable that their needs will be understood,” Carson said. 

Diversity and inclusion can be a deal breaker

Employers are beginning to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion to their bottom line, with 90% believing a diverse team can offer better business outcomes, according to Hays, but only a small percentage (22%) are held accountable for these outcomes.

However, employers may have to be held accountable in an employee’s job market.

“In general, the biggest challenge we encounter is not associated with diversity but rather with the skills shortage, which continues to intensify,” said Carson.

Hays Salary Guide showed that 78% of professionals believed that an organisation’s stance diversity was important when considering whether to work for them.

In terms of retention, organisational belonging, challenging teams bias without consequences, and safety sharing views were all the biggest factors keeping workers in their jobs.

“In a jobs market that still favours skilled professionals, employers are certainly looking for ways to expand their talent networks, which includes understanding and encouraging diversity in their recruitment process.”

How can brokerages and mortgage leaders create a more diverse workforce?

Even if mortgage leaders understand and support the need for diversity inclusion, that doesn’t mean they always know how to implement it.

Carson said Hays worked with mortgage brokers to create an inclusive recruitment process, such as with job descriptions that used inclusive language and focused on the skills and qualifications required.

“We encourage hiring managers to assess candidates against these requirements rather than making any assumptions. We also use multiple sourcing channels to attract candidates from different backgrounds,” said Carson.

“We then work with hiring managers to design structured interview questions for consistent candidate assessments.”

Carson said every client Hays worked with was different, so they took the time to understand their needs and then talk to them about how to best solve their challenges and identify the best talent.

“We ensure the recruitment process is accessible and can accommodate alternative interview arrangements,” Carson said.

“For some clients, we may suggest unconscious bias training. We may also work with clients on their diversity metrics and measurement, although this is determined by their individual needs.”

What are you doing to recruit top talent? Comment below.

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