Trina Scott on adjusting business strategy during social upheaval

Trina Scott, chief diversity officer at Rock Ventures and 2020 HousingWire Woman of Influence, will speak at our HousingWire Annual event on Oct. 8. HousingWire sat down with Scott ahead of that event to get a glimpse of what she’ll be talking about during her panel entitled: Business Strategy During Social Upheaval.

During the interview, Scott shares why this session is important, her advice to mortgage executives when it comes to starting the conversation on how to create a business strategy during social upheaval and some initiatives that Quicken Loans started that she thinks could be applied at other companies.  

On the HW Annual panel, Scott will be joined by Kenon Chen, executive vice president, corporate strategy at Clear Capital, and Montell Watson, director of corporate strategy at Movement Mortgage and the session will be moderated by Adam Constantine, owner and CEO of Ace Creatives.

HW: What’s one piece of advice you would give to mortgage executives about starting the conversation on how to create a business strategy during social upheaval?

Trina Scott: It starts with the culture of your organization. We’re very proud of our culture, which is built off of our philosophies called “ISMs.” We are also very conscious that, even though we have a rich culture, we need to be able to make sure that our culture has continued to evolve and that we’re continuing to challenge the status quo of where we are as an organization. I’d say the first place to start is to ask: who are you as an organization? Do you know that? If you don’t, you need to establish that.

The second thing is to understand the business imperative around diversity, equity, belonging and inclusion. If it’s looked at as a programmatic, separate thing you will never incorporate it to systemic overall changes that need to be made to processes that exist. It’s important to understand the “why” behind this effort, not just for this moment but where it’s really driving the bottom-line impact.

I challenge all of us to think about who we are as an organization, establish who we are and use that as our bedrock. Most importantly, understanding our opportunity to be able to influence the outcome by incorporating equity, inclusion, belonging and diversity in every decision we make and, therefore, those two things build on a solid foundation of creating a program that’s sustainable.

HW: Looking back at the start of the year, what key things did Quicken Loans and the Rock Family of Companies have in place that helped you as a company quickly respond to the pandemic and widespread protests after the death of George Floyd?

Trina Scott: One of the things I think was super important is that we had our diversity, inclusion and equity strategy already established.

In addition to what we already had in place, we built an entire six-point plan to focus on all aspects of the issue. That plan helped us to have more centralization of the things we were doing. For example, we had a government affairs team, but we recognized that our government affairs team wasn’t necessarily explaining to our team members the impact that we’re having on influencing policy and influencing things that we know will bridge the gap for inequalities that exist.

We also knew that we needed to make sure we communicate the progress of this plan to our team members, having regular updates just like we do from any other business function. Most importantly, how are we sharing that outwardly? We’re trying to help influence and learn best practices from other folks, so being outward facing and explaining the action behind our plan was super important.

HW: What are some initiatives that Quicken Loans started that you think could be applied at other companies?  

Trina Scott: People always want to know, “What do I do next?” It’s not just, make a mission statement and that’s it. I think the most important piece is understanding the temperature of your organization. Some very impactful things that we’ve done, by way of action, is we have an annual survey that we send out to our team members with over an 85% response rate. When you think about surveying your team members, you have to think about what you are trying to elicit from them and what will you do with that information?

The second one is again around team member engagement. I think it’s super important for this to be crystallized for all of us who are in this space and are trying to figure out what our next steps are. You need to determine what your current statistics are. We make a lot of decisions based on data, so I think it’s important for senior leaders to understand what their current makeup is. How many team members do you have overall? Who have you hired in the last six, 12, 18 months? What is your leadership makeup? How does that bear out? And also, looking at your retention efforts.

When I say looking at metrics, I’m not just saying look at it from one sort of global perspective, but taking that data and looking at it from different forms of data, so you start to uncover and unravel where your opportunities are and where you’re doing very well. This helps to inform where your efforts should be.

HW: Why do think this session topic is something mortgage executives need to start talking about and focusing on?

Trina Scott: We need to think about how we, as an industry, start to address those gaps and inequalities that exist so that we can change the system to have things more equitable for everyone – Not just high wage earners, or those who live in a specific ZIP code.

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