The Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) yesterday spoke to the importance of improving diversity and inclusion within broking, addressing the crucial role such efforts play in preserving the longevity and sustainability of the industry.
Speaking at the second annual Opportunities for Women Report launch held yesterday in Sydney, MFAA CEO Mike Felton called the industry to better support and acknowledge the value presented by female brokers.
While the report found a growing subsection of the industry acknowledges the challenges women participants face as compared to the previous iteration, further action is crucial, particularly given just 27% of brokers are female.
“Women are vital to the finance broking industry. They bring new perspectives, they have different strengths, and they bring a whole set of values that are absolutely necessary for our success,” Felton said.
“If we don’t do better for the women in our industry, we’re not only failing in a moral sense, but we’re failing in a business sense.”
The MFAA report revealed the business case for diversity is not understood within the industry, with most simply seeing it as a social cause rather than a vital business strategy.
Jane Counsel, MFAA panel member and diversity and inclusion expert, was in attendance to present the concrete business benefits that arise from prioritising diversity within an industry.
“We don’t just want to say, ‘Let’s focus on inclusion because it’s socially responsible.’ If we keep focusing on it because it’s socially responsible, we will be disrupted. And our industry will change. And we won’t have control over it,” she said.
Conversely, successful navigation of the “unprecedented change” the broking industry has faced and will continue to come up against requires a wide range of experiences and perspectives, all of which contribute to an agile sector able to maintain its relevance in the rapidly changing financial services environment.
Ensuring the industry is able to attract and retain the diverse talent needed to pull off this feat is crucial in order to continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers. However, it will only be possible through creating an industry, as well as localised work environments, that esteem and protect individual differences and allow employees to bring their “whole self” to work, boosting employee engagement and effort.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast every time. We can sit here as an industry and say we have all these great strategies around addressing market performance, being innovative and being nimble, but if we can’t create industry culture, where we truly do value and respect difference, then we risk being disrupted,” said Counsel.
Moving into 2020, one of the key priorities for the Opportunities for Women program is the development of a peer-to-peer support program for women available both virtually and face-to-face.