A company described as democratizing and potentially helping to decrease discrimination in the mortgage lending has laid off its entire diversity and inclusion recruiting team, CNN reports. Better.com, a mortgage originator that largely uses algorithms in place of human underwriters to make lending decisions, is cutting 900 jobs, or about 9 percent of its workforce, the report said.
Among those on the outs are apparently the people responsible for bringing diverse talent into the company, although CNN’s story didn’t say how many jobs that accounted for of Better.com’s demographic makeup.
The company is laying off hundreds of people at an odd time, right after announcing plans to bring in millions by going public and after paying big bonuses to execs.
Among those fired were the diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team.
The Softbank-backed mortgage lender announced in May it was going public through an SPAC and last week received $750 million in cash as part of the deal. The company is prepared to have more than $1 billion on its balance sheet. [CEO Vishal] Garg has been involved in controversy before, as evidenced by an email he sent to staff that was obtained by Forbes.
“You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS... SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME,” he wrote.
The Daily Beast reported in August that one of Garg’s most “loyal lieutenants” received massive perks, such as millions of dollars worth of stock options that could be vested immediately, not comparable to other employees. That person was later placed on administrative leave for bullying.
So no to mortgage discrimination, but yes to toxic workplaces?
It’s unclear what Better.com’s layoffs mean for the company’s plans but cutting the diversity recruitment team could be significant in context. Better is one of several companies using technology to improve the mortgage process, and as this NY Times story explains, their success could be key to helping Black homebuyers and other underrepresented groups access loans where they might otherwise face barriers. Decades of data show it’s still harder for Black people to buy homes than whites despite laws banning housing discrimination and redlining.