Mortgage industry events laced with alcohol and illegal substances are still happening too often which is one of the reasons why women have fallen victim to sexist behaviour, the chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has said.
On the FTAdviser podcast, Rob Sinclair said he worries there are still “too many people who turn up in a social environment drinking too much or even buying drugs on occasion”.
He argued the industry’s reliance on substances means those employed by lenders and mortgage broker firms who attend these work events are less likely to control themselves and act rationally.
The comments follow AMI’s diversity and inclusion report, which was published over a year ago.
It highlighted instances where one woman had to call down to hotel security to remove a man who was knocking at her door after a conference, and where another had a key card thrown at her by a man who told her to meet him upstairs in the room later.
It also found 15 per cent of women surveyed said they had experienced sexual harrassment, that people in the industry refuse to pronounce names they didn’t recognise, and that ‘straight pride’ is often suggested by staff when LGBTQ+ issues are raised.
“We event organisers haven’t been great either,” said Sinclair. “We always worry about what the drinks will be at the bar, and what the alcohol will be. We never really focus on the soft drinks.”
Sinclair said the report was a “stark eye-opener” for him and those who commissioned it.
“What we have seen at a number of industry events is comperes reminding people that they are actually at a work event and they need to act in a way commensurate with that.”
People have been taken out of events and faced disciplinary action since this report was published, according to Sinclair.
“I don’t think this would have happened if we hadn’t opened up the sore which effectively sits underneath all of this.”
Also on the podcast was Kate Davies, executive director at the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association. She said it was “depressing” the industry still needed hosts at events to remind people how to behave.
“The fact that the AMI report uncovered so much behaviour that women, people of colour, or people with different sexual orientations feel uncomfortable is absolutely right. It needed to be called out, we needed to do something about it…Some people need to be snapped out of complacency.”
Davies is worried the industry could be “galloping backwards”, suggesting social media has also encouraged mistreatment across the industry and that the problem doesn’t just rest on events.
To listen to the full podcast, click the link above.