"I don't believe the industry can grow if it continues to perform in a monoculture"
The value of representation in a high-volume, highly competitive sector such as the mortgage industry makes itself especially apparent in the long term, according to Lesley Chen, regional director (commercial originations) at Equitable Bank.
“Women are 50% of the workforce, right? I don’t believe the industry can grow if it continues to perform in a monoculture,” Chen told Canadian Mortgage Professional.
At stake is the longevity of mortgage industry players, Chen argued.
“[Representation] will inspire female employees that their voices are welcomed and they too can be leaders,” Chen said. “So one issue that I think is worth pointing out is not only that we need more female leaders; more importantly, we need more female representation. Studies have found that unless you have 30% of the female representation, there isn’t really [a] major impact to have more senior female leaders. So the changes really need to be [driven] from all levels of industry.”
The impact is even more pronounced when it comes to highly motivated women professionals who also belong to minorities.
Chen said that representation is close to her heart, “for me, a woman of colour, a first-generation immigrant who speaks English with an accent.”
“A lot of jobs in the industry I have witnessed over the years require someone who speaks perfect English or able to write with perfect grammar,” Chen said. “Those jobs can be quite intimidating for people like myself. So again, it’s something that we just have to keep fighting for ourselves.”
“A sales role traditionally goes towards someone who you know is usually a Caucasian male in my industry. That’s something that we just have to fight for. So it’s time for change. The world is changing and we need to go with it,” she added. “We really need to want it. The desire needs to come from within. And at the end of the day, it’s up to us to go for it. It’s up to us to pick up the phone, to knock on some door and put ourselves out there.”
For more insights on women’s inimitable place in the mortgage industry, click here.