The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) was founded in 1980 as the peak industry organisation for professional finance and mortgage brokers, mortgage managers, and aggregators. The MFAA has more than 13,700 members who operate their businesses by the organisation’s Code of Practice, which aligns the retail mortgage industry with its investors’ and consumers’ confidence and trust. Through education, advocacy, and support to build its member’s businesses, it promotes a competitive, healthy finance and mortgage industry. With its members, it joins forces with government, industry stakeholders, and regulators to provide consumers with financing and mortgage solutions that meet their financial goals.
The business challenge
As a primary goal of the MFAA is to build and support healthy finance and mortgage businesses throughout Australia, it saw a discrepancy between its commitment to a healthy industry and the under-representation of women among its numbers. In fact, women’s participation was declining.
In 2018, the MFAA looked outside of its organisation for the expertise required to work towards gender equality. Executive Central principal consultant Jane Counsel was engaged by the MFAA to help it work towards these goals. Jane was already an advisor on the MFAA’s Community Panel, which promotes sustainability initiatives to MFAA’s members. In her previous role as the Head of Diversity at Westpac Group, Jane implemented that organisation’s diversity and inclusion strategy for 36,000 employees, which also meant she had good insight of the opportunities for diversity in the finance industry.
Jane was engaged to work with the MFAA on delivering its first member survey on diversity and inclusion to establish a benchmark on diverse representation in the industry, and test member perceptions and engagement about the overall inclusiveness of the industry.
The purpose of the initiative was to:
- Identify barriers to female participation, such as attraction, employment and development;
- Determine positive attributes of the industry that appeal to diverse employees;
- Create a strategic action plan that can be leveraged by members to help increase the representation of women and create a more diverse and inclusive industry overall.
The member survey and subsequent engagement with key survey sponsors identified a number of opportunities for MFAA members to work more cohesively on creating a more inclusive industry for women and other diverse employee groups.
The responses to the survey, along with the topics covered in a workshop in May 2018, comprised the content of the MFAA Opportunities for Women Report, which was launched in late 2018.
MFAA Head of Communications and Marketing Stephen Hale said:
The stage one report was so well received industry-wide that we doubled the investment from program sponsors and we are expanding its focus in 2019. Jane’s guidance in steering the direction and outcome of stage one of the program was critical to its success.Business outcomes
The program is still being evaluated as of July 2019; however, feedback has been very positive. Participants have said they feel more confident, are more aware of their own strengths and potential within Fire and Rescue NSW, and they are transferring those things to other women within the organisation.
The road ahead
Using member feedback and insights, Jane, the MFAA and industry sponsors identified six strategic focus areas for the mortgage and commercial broking industry to improve the representation of women across the industry.
Those six areas are:
- Promote the industry’s existing diversity through case studies and stories.
- Seek support from top brands in the industry to further the goal of positive change towards more women in leadership positions.
- Provide training about diversity and the value of women’s leadership.
- Create more opportunities for peer-to-peer support among influential women from all levels in the industry.
- Improve the promotion and marketing aspects of the industry.
- Create opportunities for women to enter the industry and support for women who are currently in the industry to stay in it.
Jane continues to support the industry on this important initiative in the second half of 2019, as the MFAA encourages members to take action on the six initiatives and undertake a deeper dive through a second survey. Industry engagement in the initiative is very high and members remain committed to creating an industry culture and demographic that is more representative of the diverse community it serves.
MFAA’s Stephen Hale said:
Jane’s guidance during the development of the program has proved invaluable, as she has successfully engaged key industry sponsors and influencers and created a highly supported industry-wide program. She has proved to be a great asset to our industry and to those who will benefit from the program.
Contact Jane to discuss any of Executive Central’s Diversity and Inclusion solutions.