Lack of transparency leaves pay inequalities unchecked, reveals AMI diversity study

Many inequalities develop and remain unchecked because of lack of transparency around pay and reward, revealed the latest report by the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), supported by Aldermore and Virgin Money.

The Viewpoint on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in the mortgage industry study comprises the results of its survey conducted in July, in which 1,178 people shared their perceptions and lived experiences of diversity and inclusion in the mortgage industry.

According to the report, 50% of LGBTQ+ people, 46% of women, and 43% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds believe there is a lack of transparency over pay and rewards.

The data highlighted that straight white men consistently earn more than their colleagues, and income inequalities increase with seniority.

The largest discrepancies manifest 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.

In addition, 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.

The report also revealed that more than half of women (54%), LGBTQ+ (56%) and ethnic minority (52%) respondents believe that people in these groups are not well represented at all levels of the mortgage industry.

Overall, only 43% of participants agreed that the sector attracts a workforce that is representative of the whole community.

While the overwhelming majority of people (82%) said it is important to improve the diversity, inclusion and equity in the mortgage sector, a quarter of all survey respondents (24%) disagree that the industry is genuinely committed to doing so.

This figure rises to 44% among LGBTQ+ people and 50% among people from ethnic minority backgrounds; however, significantly fewer women (26%) disagree, which suggests that efforts to address gender diversity are paying off.

When asked specifically about whether they agree that everyone in the mortgage industry has the same opportunities to progress and is rewarded fairly, regardless of their demographic profile, 47% of women, 32% of LGBTQ+ people and 28% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds disagreed with the statement.

The AMI stated that discrimination and harassment have no place in our industry or in society, and that a new code of conduct needs to be agreed and signed up to by all firms.

Andrew Montlake, chairman at the AMI, said in the report: “With fewer than half of respondents believing that the mortgage industry attracts a workforce representative of our community, we need to check our own assumptions and behaviours, our unconscious biases, and change the language we use when recruiting.

“Leaders need to understand that this comes from the top, with company culture that is real rather than tokenistic, communicating our values clearly as firms, with prominence on our websites and in our recruitment literature. 

“We should all be clear that we are not just looking for ‘culture fit’, but for ‘culture add’.”

Robert Sinclair, chief executive at the AMI, added: “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; our industry, our people and our clients will thank us.”

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