Eight years ago, Marcia Davies took at a job at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Attending MBA-sponsored conferences, Davies noticed women often did not know each other.
Davies decided to do something about that. In 2016, she launched mPower — MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach — a networking platform for women in the real estate finance industry.
“I set out to create a network, an idea to help women connect with one another,” said Davies, now MBA’s chief operating officer. “It quickly grew into so much more, because women were really hungry for more information, for more opportunities to work together.”
Through the program, women can connect as a group or individually, as well as develop professionally through videos, webinars and events. More than 6,500 have joined the platform, which can be found at mba.org/mpower.
Davies spoke with Scotsman Guide about mPower and her hopes that it will help grow the next generation of female leaders in the mortgage industry.
Why is mPower needed?
I’ve been in the industry over 30 years and there really weren’t places for me to get the kind of professional development and networking that would have been helpful for me, particularly early in my career. We women tend to be very focused on the task at hand, getting the job done and, really, I don’t think women take naturally to reaching out, networking and connecting.
Is there a perception that women need to perform at higher levels in their jobs in this industry to be recognized?
I don’t think there’s empirical data within this industry that would justify that sentence, but I do think that women believe they have to work harder.
Is there a gender pay gap in the mortgage industry like there are in other professions?
Again, we do not have empirical data from our industry but, as you know, from the data that is out there, there is a pay gap for women. … I think it’s a challenge that all industries face and some companies are better than others, right? The overall data suggests that women make 80 cents on the dollar [compared to men]. If you’re a Latina or black woman, it’s far less than that.
What about for originators, who have commission-based compensation?
You have to look at how many women — you’re talking residential and commercial/multifamily — are in those originator jobs. If you look at all the originator jobs across the industry, what is the percent occupied by women versus men? … The commissions in those originator jobs, from what I understand, are pretty lucrative.
Are you suggesting that women who enter the industry may go into operations or human resources, rather than the more lucrative sales positions?
There are a lot of successful women in sales, so I’m really trying hard not to generalize and make statements that apply to the overall industry. But I do think that there are probably fewer women in some of those higher-paying originator roles.
What are you most proud of in regard to what mPower has achieved?
I am most proud of how women have come together to support one another and do business together. There is so much energy. Really, what has propelled mPower’s success is the demand from the women in the industry. … There was really a thirst for the type of information that women share with one another.
Where do you feel mPower will go in the future?
I see it growing and I also see us providing more services to women and the industry. I am right now working on a strategic plan for the next three years. I’m working within my community of women to find out what resonates with them, [and] the types of things that MBA can provide under our mPower brand that they would find beneficial and help them reach their highest potential.
Do you have anything else to add?
I talk about it from the stage, but this isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s an issue for all of us, because I would bet every man in our industry has either a wife, a mother, a daughter or a niece in the workplace. They should want to understand the issues that are impacting the women that they care about in their lives.