Building a better office

  • Why this successful broker focuses on property investors and referral partners

    He has settled more than $500m-worth of loans over the past ten years

  • Why this successful broker focuses on property investors and referral partners

    He has settled more than $500m-worth of loans over the past ten years


    • 2018 Commercial Lenders Roundtable
    • Top 10 Brokerages 2018
    • 2018 Brokers on Aggregators

    The mortgage industry – and arguably the finance world at large – has traditionally been perceived as a fairly white, male-dominated field. But times are changing, and Bluestone is doing its part to ensure that a more diverse range of candidates continue to enter the field.

    CEO Campbell Smyth believes diversity allows companies to better service the communities they operate within. But it’s not as simple as hiring to a set profile. When discussing ‘diversity’ and ‘non-discrimination’, he says it’s important to clarify that there is a distinction between the two.

    The two terms are often used interchangeably, but both are open to wider interpretation, which can be problematic if the whole business isn’t on the same page. Quota-oriented systems are something Smyth has been keen to avoid in Bluestone’s hiring practices.

    “Quotas can be valuable, but they can also lead to a level of perceived diversity, while still causing discrimination in the process,” says Smyth. “We always want to be in that position where we’re hiring the best person according to the role, rather than singling out people for specific characteristics.”

    Smyth explains that he wants people to be seen as whole individuals rather than reduced to a checklist of racial, religious or cultural tick boxes, while the workplace still reflects a natural cross-section of society. He sees diversity as the natural outcome of active non-discrimination – in turn making non-discrimination the best starting point for hiring practices.

    “We work hard to find the point where diversity and non-discrimination intersect, so that we can secure the best person for the role while also creating a more diverse workforce in the process,” he says. “If you can do that you’ve achieved diversity and you can subsequently engage with society at large in a more effective way.”

    “We tend to initially build bonds and trust via similarity – so it makes no sense to have everyone coming out of the same mould” Campbell Smyth, CEO, Bluestone Mortgages

    The supportive office
    Though the focus may appear to be on how people come into the business, Smyth is keenly aware that a support network needs to be in place for staff once they’re actually there.

    “You need to ensure that you have structures in place to facilitate all of the different people that work in the business,” says Smyth.

    “That means that you can welcome and accommodate the needs and representation of the society you have in the business.”

    As with anything else in life, it’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand their needs, Smyth says. Depending on the situation, that may involve details such as maternity leave, providing religious facilities, offering flexible working hours or accommodating disabilities, to name a few.

    “It’s not about singling people out as different or othering them,” says Smyth. “It’s about how we can see them as whole people and best deliver for their needs. It’s all part of the process of being more inclusive.”

    It’s an approach that yields benefits for the business too; having more staff who can engage with broader sections of the general public will mean customers are more likely to be pleased with the overall experience and use the company again in the future.

    “We tend to initially build bonds and trust via similarity, so it makes no sense to have everyone coming out of the same mould,” says Smyth.

    Future focus
    Given the greater public awareness of the issues around diversity, does Smyth feel that Australian workplaces are improving?

    “I think the answer has to be yes,” he says. “There’s clearly been an outward effort by numerous parties to bring things together.”

    He believes that in the industry people are more aware and think more about unconscious biases – questioning themselves and others about their own preconceptions.

    “People still have biases, and we can take steps to address that through training, technology and increased self-awareness,” says Smyth.

    Accordingly, he’s hopeful for the future. “I particularly notice that a lot of younger people seem to have less of that conscious or unconscious bias,” says Smyth. “As society evolves, we are becoming more aware and making steps forward.”

    That said, there’s still work to be done. Ideally, the shift towards diversity should happen naturally, but it’s clear that external intervention is still necessary.

    “Until we are representative as an industry, there’s still more to do,” says Smyth. “Biases will always create outcomes that are worse than when you don’t have biases in play.”

    Original Article