Opinion

Four ways for mortgage women to take a stand in 2020

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What's the most exciting thing happening in mortgage finance today? Hint: It barely has anything to do with mortgage or finance. It has everything to do with more women in the industry taking a stand and becoming empowered.

I've had a front-row seat to this extraordinary development. After more than three decades in the industry, in 2016 I invited 75 women to lunch during the Mortgage Bankers Association's Annual Convention in San Diego. I wanted to see if women would take an hour out of their busy conference schedules to meet other women and spend time getting to know one another.

To my surprise, 150 women showed up. It marked the start of a new movement: mPower.

The name mPower stands for "MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend Their Reach." We host numerous events, webinars, videos, and have a vibrant online community. What started with 150 women in that lunch has since grown to more than 17,000 mortgage professionals spread across the country. Everything we do is centered around one purpose: inspiring, informing and empowering women.

Through mPower, we want every woman across the mortgage industry to take a stand. I want to share with you four ways that you can do that, becoming more empowered in 2020 and beyond.

Stand out

Every woman knows the truth: We must prove ourselves every day. I can attest that no one is ever going to just give us a seat at the table. If you want to get there, you have to work hard for it. In short, you must earn that seat. And you earn it when you stand out.

If you want to stand out, you can't just show up. Whether you’re helping first-time buyers better understand the mortgage application process, underwriting a loan, or securing retail space for a small business owner, you must deliver results.

There are no off days — just more days for you to show what you’re capable of accomplishing. When you stand out, you get noticed.

Stand up

It is no secret that women are underrepresented in leadership positions in our industry. To solve this problem, we all need to stand up.

Countless women in our industry have the skills, confidence and expertise to be a leader. More than that, we can be authentic leaders. Authentic leaders understand themselves — who they are, and who they’re not. They respect the people around them, no matter where they are on the org chart. Most importantly, authentic leaders respect themselves. When you have self-respect, you find the strength to do what needs to be done.

More and more women are finding their inner authentic leader. They're leaping over barriers and ensuring their voices are heard and respected. In short, they're standing up — and you can join them.

Stand strong

Taking a stand is never easy. The only way to succeed is if you stand strong.

There are two ways to stand strong. The first is more straightforward: Having the courage to take a stand even when you don't know what's going to happen. Take comfort in knowing that taking a stand is the right thing to do, no matter what follows.

Standing strong also means having the confidence to tout your accomplishments. You don't have to be arrogant or boastful, but you need to make sure people are aware of the good work you do. You must be your biggest advocate.

Women come up to me all the time to say mPower has helped them "make the ask" — whether it was for a raise, new career opportunity, or for business from a colleague. This has always come easier for men, and now it’s coming easier for more women.

Stand together

Women have strength in numbers. We can accomplish much when we take a stand. If we do so together, our impact will be even greater.

This starts by finding time to connect. I know firsthand how difficult this can be. Most women balance a career, a long commute, a family, and the household. Women are so busy delivering results — at home and at work — that it is tough or seemingly impossible to find the time to network. But you must find the time.

Meeting new people opens doors you never knew existed. And, as women make new connections, they are building our network and making the mortgage industry stronger and more united. In 2020, I challenge you to meet five new people. Whether it is grabbing coffee or going out to lunch, I promise you it will be worth it.

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