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Overcome the Mortgage Gender Gap with a Hop, Step and Some Tech

Finance

Feature Photo credit: "Mortgage" (CC BY 2.0) by Got Credit

It's hard to dispute that women have a tougher time getting ahead in certain sectors than men. While there's certainly an argument that those with a strong will can succeed in anything, the stats often show that females are underrepresented or undervalued in some areas.


In recent years, one of the major talking points has been the gender pay gap. Following the publication of average hourly earnings in April 2019, we know that 78% of the country's largest companies had a gender pay gap in favour of men. That's a problem in and of itself. However, an indirect and possibly overlooked consequence of women earning less than their male counterparts relates to mortgages.

The Property Ladder Isn't Easy to Climb

"Ladder" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by treehouse1977

Anyone trying to get on the UK property ladder will know that it's tough regardless of gender. With the average house price now more than £226,000 and lenders being tighter than they once were, everyone may struggle. Something we do know, however, is that women have had it slightly tougher. In 2015, one in ten women claimed they faced discrimination when applying for a mortgage.

According to NAWRB, the biggest barrier to entry for women trying to get a mortgage is pay. With the gender pay gap meaning women have lower annual incomes, lenders often see them as less desirable candidates. On top of that, motherhood is an issue. Although unsaid, there has long been a perception that female mortgage applicants are discriminated against if they plan to have a baby. In essence, if they're likely to have a long period of time off work or working reduced hours, lenders see them as a greater risk.

Use Every Tool Available

As we know from other walks of life, becoming a mother shouldn't exclude you from anything. However, in the cutthroat world of finance, these types of issues still exist. With that being the case, you need to know your options. Today, there is more information and resources out there than ever before. Simply knowing what a lender offers can help you improve your chances of being accepted for a mortgage. For example, Coventry Building Society is rated as a more consumer-friendly lender than most.

As outlined by online broker Trussle, Coventry mortgage customers had fewer complaints compared to other lenders. The site says that, between July and December 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) upheld complaints from just 0.1% of Coventry customers. That's significantly lower than the national average of 0.4%. Although that doesn't mean you're more likely to be approved for a mortgage by Coventry Building Society, it does suggest the company has a desire to be a friendly lender. This, in turn, could give you a better chance of getting the money you need.

Beyond making your own assumptions, mortgage calculators are now more advanced than ever. By using sophisticated algorithms, brokers can process live data. The benefit of this is that the calculators can make suggestions and continually refine them. Taking into account lending rates, approval rates, house prices and more, the software makes it easier to find a suitable deal in the moment. Again, this technology doesn't guarantee you'll get accepted. But any time you can get an edge, you should take it.

4 Min Read
Business

Today, Companies Need to Retain Veteran Employees in Order to Survive and Thrive

In 2020, as the world turned on its axis, we all held on for dear life. Businesses, non-profits, government organizations, and entrepreneurs all braced for a new normal, not sure what it would mean, what would come next, or if we should be excited or terrified.

At the same time that everything is shifting, being put on hold, or expanding, companies have to evaluate current talent needs, empower their teams to work from home, discover new ways to care for clients from a distance, and navigate new levels of uncertainty in this unfamiliar environment. Through it all, civilians are being encouraged to lean into concepts like "resilience" and "courage" and "commitment," sometimes for the first time.

Let's contrast what the business community is going through this year with the common experience of the military. During basic training, officer candidate school, multiple deployments, combat, and reintegration, veterans become well-versed in resilience, courage, and commitment to survive and thrive in completing their mission. Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

More than ever before, today's employers who employ prior military should focus on why and how to retain them and leverage their talents, experience, and character traits to help lead the company — and the employees — to the other side of uncertainty.

What makes veterans valuable employees

Informed employers recognize that someone with a military background brings certain high-value assets into the civilian sector. Notably, veterans were taught, trained, and grounded in certain principles that make them uniquely valuable to their employers, particularly given the current business environment, including:

Leadership

It's been said that the United States Armed Forces is the greatest leadership institution in the world. The practices, beliefs, values, and dedication of those who serve make them tested leaders even outside of the military. Given the opportunity to lead, a veteran will step forward and assume the role. Asked to respect and support leadership, they comply with that position as well. Leadership is in the veteran's blood and for a company that seeks employees with the confidence and commitment to lead if called upon, a veteran is the ideal choice.

Commitment

The hope is that all employees are committed to their job and give 100% each day. For someone in the military, this is non-negotiable. The success of the mission, and the lives of everyone around them, depend on their commitment to stay the course and perform their job as trained. When the veteran employee takes on a project, it will be completed. When the veteran employee says there's an unsurmountable obstacle, it is so (not an excuse). When a veteran says they're "all in" on an initiative, they will see it through.

Strategy, planning, and improv

Every mission involves strategy, planning, and then improvisation from multiple individuals. On the battlefield, no plan works perfectly, and the service member's ability to flex, pivot, and adapt makes them valuable later, in the civilian sector. Imagine living in countries where you don't speak the language, working alongside troops who come from places you can't find on a map, and having to communicate what needs to get done to ensure everyone's safety. Veterans learned how to set goals, problem-solve challenges, and successfully get results.

Service

With an all-volunteer military for decades now, every man and woman who wore our nation's uniform raised their hand to do so. They chose to serve their country, their fellow Americans, and their leaders. These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

When companies seek out leaders who will commit to a bigger mission, can think strategically and creatively, and will serve others, they look to veterans.

Best practices in retention of veteran talent

Retention starts at hiring. The experience set out in the interview stage provides insight about how it will be to work and grow within the team at the company. For employers hiring veterans, this is a critical step.

Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent.

The veteran employee may have had a few — or several — jobs since leaving the military. Or this may be their first civilian work experience. In any case, setting expectations and being clear about goals is vital. Remember, veterans are trained to complete a mission and a goal. When an employer clarifies the mission and shows how the veteran employee's role supports and fulfills that mission, the employee can more confidently and successfully complete their work.

Additionally, regular check-ins are helpful with veteran employees. These employees may not be as comfortable asking for help or revealing their weaknesses. When the employer checks in regularly, and shows genuine interest in their happiness, sense of productivity, and overall job satisfaction, the veteran employee learns to be more comfortable asking for help when needed.

The military is a values-driven culture. Service members are instilled with values of loyalty, integrity, service, duty, and honor, to name a few. When they transition out of the military, veterans still seek a commitment to values in their employers. Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent. Make it clear what your values are, how you live and act on those values, and how the veteran's job will promote and support those values. Even work that is less glamorous can be attractive to a veteran if they understand the greater purpose and mission.

Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

Finally, leveraging the strengths and goals of any employee is critical, and particularly so with veterans. If you have an employee who is passionate about service, show them ways to give back — through mentoring, community engagement, volunteerism, etc. If your veteran continues to seek leadership roles, find opportunities for them to contribute at higher levels, even informally. When your veteran employee offers to reframe the team's mission to gain better alignment across the sector, give them some runway to experiment. You have a workforce that is trained and passionate about and skilled in adapting and overcoming. Let them do what they do best.