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Diversity In Action

 

Freddie Mac: taking diversity & inclusion to the next level

“When we talk about inclusion, we’re talking about a culture that’s fair to everybody,” says a senior director. Freddie Mac is working at it


Tujuanna Williams: “taking diversity and inclusion to the next level.”
Tujuanna Williams: “taking diversity and inclusion to the next level.”

'Freddie Mac has been committed to diversity for a very long time,” declares Tujuanna Williams, senior director of diversity and inclusion. “We are taking diversity and inclusion to the next level.

“As you walk through our halls, it’s clear that we have a workforce rich in diversity. However, when we talk about inclusion we’re talking about really creating a culture that’s fair to everybody.”

The “next level” Williams refers to includes diversity learning opportunities for all employees. All new hires are required to complete an online training course within their first three months. There are additional instructor-led courses open to all employees.

“One is called ‘Enhancing your cultural competency,’ and we talk about biases and how they impact the workplace,” Williams explains. In the ‘Managing your micro-triggers’ course “We not only talk about biases, but also about what contributes to the way we act and respond.”

There are also full-day self-efficacy workshops for specific identity groups. Additional diversity skill-building courses will be piloted in 2008.

Another new initiative looks at recruiting at Freddie Mac, and how to effectively recruit in diverse areas. “We need to make sure we bring in the best and brightest, and we need to know what our challenges are when competing against others who also want the best and brightest,” says Williams.

While Freddie Mac doesn’t have a formal diversity council, it does have employee network groups. They support recruitment and retention initiatives, career development programs for members and community outreach activities. For example, “The Asian network is doing a bone-marrow drive and taking the lead in enlisting other groups,” says Williams.

The employee network groups also provide volunteers who serve as company ambassadors. They help with recruiting efforts, and help new hires navigate their way through the organization. “We provide these volunteers with training about the ambassador program, in addition to a day and a half of diversity training,” explains Williams. “Then we take them with us to career fairs to talk about diversity.

“It’s an opportunity for prospective employees to talk to someone at the organization who’s not likely to be their prospective direct supervisor or manager, or an HR person.” The company offers domestic partner benefits, and has done so for a number of years, Williams notes.

Michele Espada is recruiting for information security professionals.
Michele Espada is recruiting for information security professionals.
Freddie Mac is actively hiring new IT staff. “We’re looking for business application analysts, technical and system analysts, database admins and technical project directors,” says Michele Espada, recruiting director. “We have a very active involvement right now in recruiting for information security professionals.”

The company also has sophisticated underwriting software called Loan Prospector. It requires a knowledgeable IT staff.

IT is a highly diversified area of the company already, with a workforce better than 40 percent minority and 50 percent female. Over the past year minorities made up half the new hires. This is a large division, with 1,800 out of Freddie Mac’s total 5,400 employees.

The company doesn’t have a formal mentoring program, but the Women’s Interaction Network decided to begin one of its own a year ago. So far it involves twenty-five pairings.

“The women’s network stepped up to the plate as mentors,” Williams says with pride. “The people who are involved as mentors have told me they learn as much as the people they’re mentoring.” That, she says, is especially true “when it’s a majority male working with a woman or someone of color.”

A number of IT employees are in Freddie Mac’s “rising leaders” program. The IT department initiated the program, designed to groom folks for leadership roles.

Everyone is invited to attend the programs and discussions, but the program is basically designed for people early in their careers who want to advance. “New employees come in with approaches you normally don’t see in corporate America,” says Williams. “It’s refreshing.”

D/C




FreddieMac Logo.

www.freddiemac.com

Headquarters: McLean, VA
Employees: approximately 5,400
Operating revenues: $44 billion+
Business: Mortgage purchase, credit guarantee and portfolio investment

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