FM Commentary

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FM Commentary

The Importance of Diversity in Our Workplace and Marketplace

Darlene SlaughterConsider these demographics: Among the next generation of home buyers (those now under age 44), about one in four will be Asian or Hispanic. Over the past decade, the buying power of Hispanics has doubled to over 108 percent from 52 percent. The homeownership rate for African Americans has fallen below 1990's levels as a result of the foreclosure crisis. More than $213 billion will be lost in wealth for communities of color also due to the foreclosure crisis.

Diversity clearly plays an important role in housing and mortgage finance.

I've been at Fannie Mae for more than 18 years, and since 2009 have had the privilege of leading the company's Office of Diversity and Inclusion – a responsibility I don't take lightly. Especially recently, I’ve found that the diversity of people and perspectives that drives our culture and business strategy are key to Fannie Mae becoming a stronger company, and to our efforts to better serve America's housing market and families. In short, our employees' diversity contributes directly to the overall health of this industry.

We know the housing recovery won't just happen, and we know communities can't stabilize on their own. It requires the expertise of men and women from all walks of life, representing the American homeowners and renters we want to help. It requires a diverse team that can work well together to strengthen an uncertain market. We are deeply committed to this responsibility and foster it in a variety of ways.

Fannie Mae has had diversity programs in place since 1992. We work to attract diverse talent because we know unique skills and different perspectives help to advance Fannie Mae’s mission to create long-term value. Currently, almost 50 percent of our employees are women and minorities, an impressive number particularly in the financial services industry. We encourage the growth and development of our employees through programs such as Women in Technology and Minority Top Talent. We also identify women and minorities to participate in external leadership development programs. To borrow a phrase I once heard, it's really about the ROP – the Return On People – not just the ROI.

All Fannie Mae employees have full access to our 10 Employee Resource Groups – including Hispanic, LGBT, Christian Salt and Light, African American, and INDUS, to name a few – that encourage a greater understanding of the value of different backgrounds and lifestyles. Each year I participate in many of the events hosted by our ERGs, which provide an opportunity to recognize the richness of our cultures. The groups also dovetail their efforts with our corporate priority to help stabilize neighborhoods by supporting foreclosure prevention and lending efforts in multicultural communities.

We focus on diversity and inclusion across external components of our business as well. For instance, we have an active supplier diversity program for the inclusion of women-, minority-, and disabled-owned businesses. This helps ensure that Fannie Mae service providers best represent the communities in which we serve and operate, also enabling us to contribute to economic stability and growth in those communities.

Through these and other initiatives, we bring the value of diversity and inclusion to every aspect of our company. These are challenging and complex times, calling us to step up and do more than ever before to support the nation's housing recovery. Every day I see how our workforce encourages innovation, expands our ability to pursue business opportunities, and enables us to overcome challenges. I believe we do this through a more complete understanding of the families and neighborhoods we serve.

Darlene Slaughter
Vice President
Chief Diversity Officer

February 14, 2012

The views expressed in these articles reflect the personal views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any other person, including Fannie Mae or its Conservator. Any figures or estimates included in an article are solely the responsibility of the author.

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