The path has been challenging and there’s more to do: IWD – Mortgage Strategy

The path has been challenging and there’s more to do: IWD – Mortgage Strategy

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“The path to women’s equality has been long and challenging and we still have work to do,” Leeds Building Society’s director of mortgages Jenny Ryatt states.

Today (8 March 2023) marks International Women’s Day (IWD), which is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

To mark IWD, Leeds Building Society will host a panel discussion to help colleagues explore ways to support gender diversity and discuss what makes a good leader, including the stereotypes of leadership.

Ryatt will be joined on the panel by Smart Works Leeds trustee Tracy Fletcher and Leeds Rhinos netball team captain Nia Jones.

Commenting on IWD, Ryatt comments: “Only a matter of decades ago, a woman who wanted to take out a mortgage in her own sole name needed a male guarantor to satisfy the lender. And for joint mortgages, a woman’s salary wasn’t even considered against the lending.”

“Thankfully, a lot has changed and women now account for half of all our borrowers, and last year 54% of mortgage accounts opened by a single person were by women, an increase from 46% just six years ago.”

“This is great to see and represents a huge step in the right direction for gender equality in homeownership.”

Ryatt highlights that it’s “important that we all take steps to ensure that we continue to make progress on the path to gender equality”.

Also commenting, Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association executive director Kate Davies says it feels like a “no-brainer” to boost gender diversity in financial services.

“Half the population is female, so most mortgage decisions are either going to be made solely or jointly by women. Many will prefer to be advised by someone who looks and thinks like them, and who understands their financial and personal circumstances.”

“Someone who won’t patronise them or assume they won’t understand ‘difficult’ things like finance. Surely many broker firms will want to employ teams which reflect their customer base in terms of gender and ethnicity?”

“There is evidence that where there are women on boards, decisions tend to be more collegiate and better for the business. More inclusive and diverse teams also reflect more inclusive and diverse points of view, giving them a better understanding of what consumers need and value, and ultimately offering customers better service in terms of product design and service delivery.”
Knowledge Bank’s founder and chief executive Nicola Firth describes today as “such an important day in the calendar each year as it’s a real reminder for everyone to stop, appreciate and celebrate the achievements of women around the world”.

“Many significant milestones in women’s history have happened in either our lifetimes or that of our parents, such as contraception and equal pay. Acts of Parliament are one thing, attitudes and public perception are quite another and these take longer to change.”

“I love that here in the UK, children are growing up seeing that absolutely anything is possible for women, whether that be running the country or lifting the World Cup….it’s all theirs for the taking.”

“But I also take time on IWD to remember that other children around the world aren’t as fortunate and for many their lives are on a predetermined path.”

“We’ve seen backward steps recently in some countries which are devastating. Women around the world are doing amazing things every day and many of them are also doing it whilst raising the next generation who are our future.”

“Having this day to pay tribute to those who have broken barriers and moulds and to celebrate the contribution to both society and business that women make around the world is what this day is about for me.”

Meanwhile, Pam Brown mortgages protection specialist Nina Brown says: “IWD is a celebration of women around the world, from all walks of life which is beautiful.”

“I think it is so important to acknowledge and appreciate the wonderful work which is happening within the finance industry in terms of gender.”

“Everybody should have a voice and I believe when women come together and help each other build and become the best versions of themselves, anything is possible.”

However, Brown highlights that more needs to be done to attract more women into the mortgage industry.

“I think we must start from the bottom up and this means tapping into the younger generations, from school age. You are never taught in schools what opportunities can arise in the finance industry and the different routes available.”

“Typically, in school, when you think about the mortgage industry… the typical narrative is still the typical white older man. I think teaching the younger generations of the amazing opportunities which can arise within this industry, this will in turn attract a more diverse range of people, both with gender and ethnicity.”

Mortgages for Business sales director Jeni Browne adds: “In a traditionally male-dominated industry, I’m proud to work for a business with a majority female leadership team. We offer everyone, irrespective of gender, the same career development and training, meaning we benefit from balance right across our teams.”

“We couldn’t be the brokerage we are today without the women who work for and with us. Happy International Women’s Day!”

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