(WGHP) — Arch Mortgage Insurance, also known as Arch MI, works to create inclusive communities through mortgage insurance for homebuyers who may not be able to save up the standard 20% down payment on a home.
David Gansberg is the CEO of Arch MI’s parent company, Global Mortgage Group. He says there’s momentum to make systemic change throughout the entire housing ecosystem, even down to the appraisal process.
“If you have an appraiser go in your house and they may see a photograph of you and your family on the table, if it’s a photograph of a Black family that appraiser may be biased and come up with a different valuation amount than an appraiser that may go into the same house and see a photograph of a white family,” he said.
Gansberg says the last year and a half has been an eye-opener. It forced their team to have some difficult conversations.
“The reality is when you work in an office environment, when you’re feeling strong emotions, you can’t leave that behind,” he said. “You can’t check that in the lobby, go get in the elevator, put on a smiling face, work your eight hours, and then elevator back down, you get back in the lobby and put on your emotions and go home.”
“I just think back to last year and everything that went on, Arch really demonstrated to me as an employee how they were willing to step up and not just make statements or put something on LinkedIn, but really rise to the occasion and start to engage with the employees in a way they never had done before and really listen and take action based on the feedback they received,” HR Generalist Tonya Battle said.
They brought in outside experts to help facilitate those conversations. Since most of the staff is still at home, most sessions were done virtually.
“It opened up the way, I think, for people to share and be vulnerable in ways that maybe if we were face to face it might have been a little tougher to do,” she said.
Gansberg says he turned the mirror on himself in a way he hadn’t before. He called himself a poster child for the privilege.
“I don’t apologize for having privilege, but to understand that not everyone has that, and to give people who don’t necessarily come from that background an opportunity to change their lives and better themselves and do what you need for their families,” he said.
For Battle, those conversations reassured her that Arch was not just part of the moment, but part of the movement.
“It makes it an environment that everyone feels comfortable, everyone feels valued, respected, appreciated,” Battle said. “And that’s something you can’t buy. You can’t pay enough in a salary for that. That’s something you have to cultivate.”
Gansberg said it’s not a one- or two-year effort.
“It’s a commitment. It’s a part of company culture. And it’s a long-term journey.”
They’re working to cultivate that culture through a new scholarship program at North Carolina A&T, and a knowledge that more has to change even at the top. Gansberg says creating diversity at the executive level has to be a priority for them and for companies around the region, but that it’s not going to happen overnight.