The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), supported by Aldermore and Virgin Money, has launched its second Viewpoint, report, which looked at diversity, inclusion and equity in the mortgage industry.
The report studied the perceptions and lived experiences of respondents working in the mortgage sector, following quantitative and qualitative market research.
AMI found that 24% of all survey respondents disagreed with the statement that the sector was genuinely committed to diversity and inclusion.
This rose to 44% among LGBTQ+ people, 50% among those from ethnic minority backgrounds, and 26% among women.
AMI found greater diversity in administrative and corporate positions, with almost half of women (48%) and LGBTQ+ people (48%) in the sample working in human resources, marketing, compliance and other corporate roles.
However, more than half of female (54%), LGBTQ+ (56%) and ethnic minority (52%) respondents said they were not well represented at all levels of the mortgage industry.
Meanwhile, 47% of women, 32% of LGBTQ+ people and 28% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds disagreed with the statement that everyone in the mortgage industry has the same opportunities to progress and is rewarded fairly, regardless of their demographic profile.
Fewer than half of all respondents (43%) said that the mortgage industry attracts a workforce that is representative of the whole community, women and those who belong to minority groups were found to have more negative perceptions of the diversity of the workforce than those without protected characteristics.
The report found that a lack of diversity was itself a barrier to attracting talent, as prospective entrants are less tempted to join a business where they do not see people like themselves progressing.
Overall, 60% of those surveyed believed a person’s family status has no impact on their career progression; however, this dropped to 37% of people who actually had children and 29% of those who cared for adults.
Among the 448 survey respondents who had taken parental leave, 48% of women felt that this had put them at a disadvantage in their
career, compared to only 8% of men thinking that this negatively impacted their progression and pay.
The largest discrepancies manifested in the two highest income brackets: 15% of straight white men in the sample earned between £90,000 and £125,000, significantly outnumbering women (6%), LGBTQ+ (2%), and colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds (5%) who earned that much.
While 17% of straight white men earned more £125,000, only 2% of women, 4% of LGBTQ+ people and 5% of ethnic minority people reached this income level.
Anecdotally, the report found that many felt that women, LGBTQ+ people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds had to work twice as hard to overcome barriers and face down double standards.
However, 75% of straight white men among the respondents said, for example, that gender had no bearing on career progression.
AMI said discrimination and harassment have no place in this industry or in the wider society, and has pledged that it will not tolerate this behaviour.
The association said a new code of conduct must be agreed and signed up to by all firms.
Robert Sinclair, chief executive of AMI, said: “The report highlights simple actions that we can all take to make a change individually, as well as more structural changes required at firm level.
“We have some real hope for the future, some real talent to let through our doors, a real chance to make a difference to the lives and experiences of so many within this industry.
“AMI is committed to work with intermediary firms, lender partners and the industry, as a whole, to do so.
“We must come together, banish poor behaviour and choices, and eliminate any ingrained prejudices to ensure that we, as an industry, attract a diverse workforce.
“We must champion true meritocracy, smash glass ceilings and ensure we are truly representative of the customers we advise now and in the future.”