Diversity at Work: When Collaboration Fuels Success
In July 2016, Freddie Mac launched a game–changing set of integrated tools to make high–quality mortgage lending easier for its customers. The deployment of Loan Advisor Suite® marked one of the company's largest–ever coordinated efforts, with over 500 employees from dozens of teams across its Single–Family Business and Information Technology divisions contributing to the project's mission of providing lenders with greater efficiency and certainty.
While the sheer number of employees working on the project makes it notable, it's the diversity on the team that many of its members reference when discussing its continued success.
"We have many different types of diversity," said Kunkun Callaghan, VP & SDO, Single–Family Servicing & REO. "From stakeholders, consumers, vendor partners and lenders, to our diverse internal team in all different roles, I feel that there is a strong sense of team with this. Everyone wants to work together and help each other."
Callaghan points to a diversity of thought that permeated the team thanks to the distinct roles and varied experience levels that people brought to the table.
"It infuses a lot of energy, great ideas and collaboration," she said.
But more than diversity in discipline and experience, the Loan Advisor Suite project's gender diversity is ahead of its time, and indicative of the success of Freddie Mac's diversity and inclusion efforts. According to McKinsey & Company's Diversity Matters report, on average, just 16% of women are on the executive management team of U.S. companies. At Freddie Mac, 24% of the executive management team are women, while 41% of senior managers are women.
and Gunjan Sharma
On the Loan Advisor Suite team, women make up nearly 40% of its executive advisory board.
"I think 20 years ago, that might have been different," said Gwen Saxby, Project Management Manager, discussing the number of women in a leadership role on the project. "When I first started working, I stuck out a like a sore thumb. I used to think about it all of the time. I don't even think about it anymore."
This diversity allows for everyone to have a voice, said Michele Hunt, Customer Management & Tech Integration Director.
"Women may have a different perspective than men and the fact that you can bring them both together allows for a more creative environment," she said. "It's all about being able to collaborate to get to that end result."
And it's that end result that keeps the team pushing forward.
"We believe that it is the right thing for the industry," said Hunt. "We all believe in the mission that we have and our value proposition. Everybody who is brought together has that same belief."
Added Lynn Sawyer, VP Operational Services:
"There is such a clear line of sight to our strategy and objectives. That helps remove some of the barriers and challenges that might pop up on other projects. We know what the priorities are and what folks should be working on."
That's not to say that Loan Advisor Suite doesn't experience the same problems as other high profile projects. But, when problems do arise, the diverse team is equipped to deal with them.
"Generally, women may approach problem–solving differently than men. If you look at it collectively, it just makes Freddie Mac stronger," said Sawyer. "Because we have that clear vision, the team is excited and motivated to work through it to our common goals. When there is conflict, you attack the problem and not the people. That is foundational to our success."