Building a better workplace – what can I do?

Knowing where to start when considering how to improve D&I outcomes and practices within your business can be a daunting prospect. To help you get started, we have extracted the key questions and action points from the AMI Viewpoint report to gather everything in one place. 

This ‘cheat sheet’ represents a wide-reaching set of practical steps you can take in key areas such as complaints reporting, recruitment and retention, supporting those with caring responsibilities, data gathering and responding to issues, and much more – helping you build a better workplace.

...to increase diversity in the mortgage industry?

  • Check all communications for inclusive language and imagery
  • Read this short booklet to learn about terminology to use and have more confident conversations about diversity and inclusion
  • Have a strong, positive D&I statement that demonstrates genuine commitment
  • Review all recruitment processes to remove barriers to women, LGBTQ+, ethnic minority and disabled people
  • Try fishing in another pond: go where diverse talent is
  • Ask that external recruiters produce diverse shortlists
  • Don’t look for ‘culture fit’ but for ‘culture add’: the people and skills you don’t have
  • Call out or report biases and assumptions that could hinder someone’s chances
  • Ask to establish or join an existing Employee Group to support management with improving diversity in recruitment
  • Consider apprenticeships to address key diversity gaps
  • Work with hiring managers and with teams to ensure that they understand and are bought in.

…to address barriers to career progression in the mortgage industry?

  • Encourage colleagues to take ownership of their personal development and to learn new skills
  • Sponsor emerging talent
  • Promote job roles as widely as possible
  • Set ambitious targets on diversity in middle and senior management roles, and communicate clearly why those are necessary to address current inequalities to generate buy-in
  • Remove all forms of discretionary power and put in place transparent processes
  • Look to remove specific barriers
  • Ask for a mentor or offer to mentor women and diverse talented people. Ensure that you have clear and fair promotion processes which are communicated in a way all can understand
  • Have a fundamental rethink of social activities to take account of wider needs and preferences – and avoid events that involve drinking, specific skills (e.g. golf), or that take place in the evening or over the weekend
  • Don’t feel under pressure to quickly backfill leavers – short term pain could be long term gain and lead to better candidates
  • Help leaders understand the issues and barriers – consider reverse mentoring or mutual mentoring partnerships.

…to make it easier for people with caring responsibilities?

  • Ask someone with caring responsibilities to ‘reverse mentor’ you and learn from their lived experience
  • Create a supportive workplace culture that signals that parents and carers are treated equally
  • Communicate clearly your expectations that parents and carers should prioritise looking after their loved ones
  • Check your own assumptions about how caring responsibilities might impact on women and men
  • Report anyone who discriminates against women on the basis that they are or may become pregnant – it’s illegal
  • Offer or consider taking shared parental leave
  • Offer help with childcare and other caring responsibilities
  • Consider how jobs can be redesigned for inclusion, with restructured job roles, flexible working hours, remote working, etc
  • Monitor attrition among parents and carers across job roles and ranks
  • Minimise industry events and social activities that are held in the evening or at the weekends.

…to close pay gaps?

  • Look at small reward programmes with staff/employee nominations focussed on over and above deliverables – this helps retention and recognition
  • Have a transparent pay scale
  • Include the ability to attract, retain and progress women and diverse employees as a key aspect of line managers’ performance reviews to underscore the company’s commitment to DI&E
  • Have an explicit career progression plan so people know what to expect in terms of pay and how it may increase depending on additional milestones, skills, responsibilities, and so on
  • Conduct an audit of pay, bonuses and benefits, and have a strategy to close gaps within the next five years
  • Ensure that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in relation to diversity, inclusion and equity are used to assess and reward managers.

…to make everyone feel included in the mortgage industry?

  • Check that your language and imagery are always inclusive
  • Be open to feedback
  • Check in regularly with colleagues, go into conversation, hear people out
  • Support safe spaces for people from minority communities
  • Create or join employee resource groups or diversity networks
  • In formal meetings, circulate an agenda beforehand, consider rotating who chairs the meeting, and try a ‘Round Robin technique to ensure everyone has a chance to speak and be heard
  • Ensure those chairing meetings are trained, prepped or have methodologies for closing down issues
  • Tackle those who speak over, who interrupt, who make bad jokes etc. Do it visibly and in the moment, not discretely and behind closed doors
  • Be mindful of other cultures and traditions and consider these in everyday working and when planning activities
  • Be clear to prospective and current employees that your organisation is inclusive and won’t tolerate discrimination of any kind
  • Carefully assess where candidates stand on D&I
  • Always challenge lazy assumptions e.g. straight pride etc. Ask people to back up what they say
  • Educate yourself about this topic: there are plenty of good books and articles
  • Be clear at all times that Diversity & Inclusion is about widening genuine meritocracy by opening up opportunities to more people based on skills and aptitudes
  • Audit your organisation to identity areas where improvement is most urgently needed and develop a clear strategy to address inequities
  • Think long-term changes rather than ‘quick wins’
  • Celebrate diversity but never make women and people from underrepresented groups that they are there ‘because’ of their diversity: it’s their skills and distinct contributions that matter
  • Have diverse work teams where possible: research shows that the more diverse the team, the better the quality of decisions.

…to improve workplace experiences for everyone?

  • Explore how work patterns might be changed (starting later, finishing earlier, working remotely, etc) to reduce stresses
  • Create a culture where people are comfortable to bring their “true” self to work and feel accepted
  • Create a culture where it is OK to talk about mental health, without stigma. As a leader or line manager, discuss your own vulnerability
  • Do things you are good at or provide colleagues with opportunities to shine
  • Join an employee group where workplace stresses can be safely discussed
  • Ensure you’re not creating a “hero culture” of long working hours, high intensity, etc.

…to make events more inclusive?

  • Have an ‘event diversity’ checklist to ensure access and experience are positive for everyone: location, timing, food and drinks, diversity of speakers and guests, activities, etc
  • Always cover in the opening address that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated – be explicit
  • Ensure post-event surveys capture feedback on diversity and inclusion
  • If you are a woman or from a minority group, put yourself forward to speak at events; if not, encourage other talented women and people from underrepresented groups to do so
  • If you are a man, ask about the diversity of speakers before agreeing to speak and recommend more diverse speakers are used
  • Share the stage with someone else who might bring a different perspective
  • Create awards for those that drive inclusion in the industry
  • Consider events strictly as workplaces and make sure you report any harassment you witness or experience
  • Think about alternative means of transport to get home rather than a hotel stay – these can be cost neutral and some people might prefer these to overnight stays.

…about overt discrimination?

  • Check your own assumptions
  • Call out inappropriate behaviours whenever they occur
  • Set expectations of allyship, not being a bystander
  • Educate yourself and other people
  • Report inappropriate behaviour to line managers or human resources
  • As a general rule, do not discuss people’s sexuality in the workplace
  • Ensure policies, processes and practices support victims – guard against victim shaming.

…about complaints reporting?

  • Adopt, and clearly communicate, a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination
  • Call out inappropriate behaviour when you see it and explain why this is wrong or hurtful
  • Ensure that all Human Resources personnel receive high-quality training around D&I
  • Set up an employee or expert D&I working group to work alongside HR departments
  • Monitor complaints and outcomes
  • Have a whistleblowing policy in place and promote it widely
  • Create safe spaces where someone can talk in confidence
  • When incidents do occur, immediately document them in detail: what happened, who was involved, the date, time and place of the incident, how it affected you / the victim, and what outcomes you would like to see
  • If you are dissatisfied with the response, contact national bodies such as

…to avoid losing talent?

  • Make sure that exit interviews are conducted when women and underrepresented staff leave to find out whether issues related to D&I are part of the motivation to leave
  • Regularly check in – through employee satisfaction surveys, employee support groups and casual conversations – to surface issues that could lead the organisation to lose talent
  • Be open about dismissals that relate to discrimination. It sends a powerful message that the perpetrators are not tolerated.

…to accelerate change?

  • Be curious and educate yourself about D&I – read, listen, talk ‘with’ people, not ‘about’ people
  • Become a D&I Champion
  • Use your lived experience to help the sector do better
  • Create a D&I Working Group, bringing in outside expertise if needed

…as an individual?

  • Check your own assumptions, be curious and educate yourself on diversity, inclusion and equity
  • Be an ally: call out or report biases, assumptions and inappropriate behaviour
  • Create or join employee resource groups or diversity networks
  • Be mindful of other cultures, traditions and needs and consider these in every day working and when planning activities.
  • Be brave – ask questions, learn, put yourself into difficult conversations in order to learn.

…as a leader?

  • Look at your Board, define your needs and identify any gaps in skills and diversity, especially in relation to lived experience of discrimination
  • Be prepared to step down to make room for others
  • Reboot your recruitment practices to find the people and skills you lack: reliance on personal networks and on attracting people who already have Board experience is likely to replicate current exclusions. Could community-based organisations provide access to new skills?
  • Be prepared to train and invest in new members that add these new skills to the Board: make people feel welcome, assign them a mentor or ‘buddy’, be willing to be ‘reverse mentored’, make sure you provide a supportive environment.
  • Provide clear, consistent leadership on D&I
  • Adopt, and clearly communicate, a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination.
  • Create a D&I Advisory Group to support the Board until you are satisfied that you have the right skills and people
  • Invite women and employees from diverse minority groups to talk to you if they have concerns
  • Seek to widen your own knowledge and skills to make you an inclusive leader: cultural competence and self-awareness, curiosity about people and listening skills, commitment and courage, consistent communications to send clear messages about the vision for D&I.

…to evidence and respond to issues using data?

  • Ask all employees to complete a detailed confidential DI&E form so that inequities can readily be identified and progress tracked
  • Carry out regular anonymous workplace satisfaction surveys
  • Listen to staff experiences to understand their experiences and needs through informal chats, formal workshops, specially commissioned research, etc
  • Interrogate key organisational data by gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation (at minimum): job applicants’ profiles, pay data, staff complaints, contract termination, etc
  • Carry out ‘exit’ interviews when you lose diverse staff to gain insight into their workplace experience and assess whether DI&E were factors in their decision to leave.

…to set the vision and track progress?

  • Review your current senior management team and skills set and identify any gaps to be filled around DI&E
  • Bring in outside experts to bolster your understanding of the issues
  • Set and communicate the inclusive vision: an open culture where everyone needs to feel included and where there is zero-tolerance for discrimination
  • Review all corporate communications to check that the language and imagery is inclusive
  • Ensure that the leadership team is held accountable for DI&E
  • Set realistic but stretching targets for greater diversity in recruitment, career progression, pay parity, etc
  • Focus more on inclusion and equality than on diversity as an end in itself: a culture of fairness, inclusion and transparency will help you attract and retain the best talent
  • Create KPIs related to DI&E for all line managers and employees in the business to underscore the importance of DI&E, share responsibility and increase accountability
  • Implement DI&E initiatives: ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions, diverse staff support networks, DI&E champions, mentoring / reverse mentoring, buddying, etc
  • Showcase and celebrate exceptional achievements among diverse staff
  • Keep things under review and make continuous improvements in relation to DI&E a key part of the culture of the organisation
  • Review internal complaints escalation processes and whistleblowing procedures to ensure that they are effective, confidential and fit for purpose. There must be an adequate, independent escalation route for matters of a sensitive nature and confidence that they will be investigated thoroughly, independently and without bias
  • Stay the course – addressing inequality is not the work of a few initiatives or events. Keep reinforcing, keep repeating messages, keep sharing stories.