When I’m talking about Fair Lending it seems like someone tells me the only color they see is “green”. While I believe that they are motivated by the money and really do not care whether a client is different than themselves, I also believe that they are lying to themselves. Psychologists have proven again and again that we ALL have biases. This doesn’t mean that we are racists, it does mean that humans judge based on visual perception.
Now, I am sure that most of you do not want to come out and admit it, and others of you have tried hard to overcome the way you may have been raised. This simply means that your “conscious” actions and behaviors are not judgmental. The issue that I am discussing today is the “unconscious” bias that you may not even realize. Not only do they exist in each of us, but they participate in decision making.
Think about your reaction to the following and don’t filter it! What was the first thing that popped into your mind?
•A person tells you they have a 620 credit score.
•You have a message from someone who receives public assistance income.
•You looked in a grocery cart of an overweight person to see what they eat.
•You go out drinking with your friends and begin discussing the other people at the bar or give others nicknames based on what you see.
•You see a teen dressed in hip-hop or with tattoos and piercings and you shake your head or worry about your security.
•You pass a homeless person on the street.
These are just a few examples of thousands of situations!
So what does all of this have to do with mortgages and fair lending? The answer is quite a bit! As part of your Fair Lending program, consumer facing personnel should be required to go through a self-evaluation of their biases. When you are confronted with the bias, then your conscious mind can recognize the signals being sent by the unconscious mind. Once you are aware, you can then apply behavioral techniques that will slowly start to change some of those biases. These tests are available online and one of the most famous was done at Harvard. There are also companies that offer classes to assist as well.
How does overcoming your biases affect others? Well, you help them live in a home they only dreamed of for starters; but the security, sense of community, pride and many other feelings go along with that!
Remember, every person has a story and here is one of my favorite videos which demonstrate that.