tion. Prepare for that meeting, write that document, or
put that agenda or deck together! Prepare for what’s
ahead: the meeting, the day, the month, or the year.
This is an area where women can really shine.
5) Be yourself. Do not try to become something that
others want you to be. You’ll ultimately be happier, and
if your true self doesn’t mesh well with your organization, it’s not a good fit. Being yourself also allows other
co-workers and customers to get to know the real you,
and being authentic makes others feel more comfortable. People prefer to do business with people they
like and are comfortable with.
6) Develop a network. Cultivate trusted advisors and
seek out strong mentors. It’s great to have someone
you can turn to and ask questions like “Am I heading in
the right direction? What do you think of this plan? Can
you help me think this through?”
7) Maintain high organizational awareness. That
means staying connected to the other departments
in your organization. What’s top of mind for them? In
my current role, I work to involve women—and men
for that matter—who are in management roles outside
of the C-suite in executive level meetings. I do so because they often have insight into company operations
or specific projects that senior vice presidents may not
have. I also try to understand where others are coming from, which women are very good at. Put yourself in
their shoes. Understand their perspective and you’ll be
able to talk to others in productive ways.
8) Lead by example. If you work on incorporating all
of the above techniques, you will be leading by example. And that can include so many things: Inspiring your
teammates or your direct reports. Demonstrating a
great work ethic. Even how you dress and how you prepare for work can set a great example for other women.
9) Know that knowledge is power. Really under-
stand your business. Understand your company. Un-
derstand your industry. Get as much education and
training as you can. Knowledge IS power, especially in
the business world. Actively seek out opportunities for
education and training. Doing so will help you develop
the profile of an executive. In addition to pursuing a
degree, women can become more educated by join-
ing professional organizations and attending mortgage
industry conferences. Read the key trade publications
and stay abreast of current issues. When seeking a
job, look for companies that offer training programs
and professional development opportunities.
10) Find the humor in your day. Enjoy the things at
work that make you laugh or smile. A good sense of humor is infectious, helps you maintain perspective, and
can ease stress in difficult situations.
ARE ENCOURAGED TO
DIVERSIFY WHEN HIRING
There’s good reason for mortgage lenders to focus on
hiring and placing more women in leadership positions.
Mortgage lenders should be aware of what’s known
as Section 342, a little-known provision of The Dodd-Frank Act governing diversity. In June 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other
federal regulators set standards to measure whether financial institutions and mortgage lenders regulated by
the federal agencies are encouraging diversity in their
policies and business practices.
On so many levels, hiring women is just good business.
Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act directs financial institutions and their vendors to diversify their
workforces to include women and minorities to
the maximum extent possible. The new standards
provide covered entities with a framework to
conduct annual self-assessments of diversity and
It’s important to note that the standards are voluntary: there isn’t an enforcement mechanism in
place under Section 342. Yet mortgage lenders
and other financial institutions would be wise to
follow the framework outlined under Dodd-Frank.
A diverse workforce can improve financial performance, lead to more innovation, and finally, can
help attract a diversified customer base.
Claudia Merkle serves as chief operating officer (COO) for National MI. She oversees underwriting,
operations, servicing, sales, marketing and business development. Merkle has over 25 years of experience within the mortgage banking and mortgage insurance industries, and has held previous executive
leadership positions in national and regional business development, operations and risk management.