Photo courtesy of Freddie Mac.
Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. The company values accountability, integrity, respect and diversity, leading by example and supporting inclusion so that both its customers and employees can thrive. It’s no wonder that six of the company’s leaders were named 2020 HousingWire Women of Influence.
“At Freddie Mac, our mission is our key differentiator,” says Michele Espada, Sr. Director of Talent Acquisition at Freddie Mac. “And not just our mission, but the scale of our impact. If you’re looking for work that makes an immediate impact on millions of people, a career at Freddie Mac is for you. We don’t just make a difference — we make a meaningful difference.”
We caught up with Espada to talk more about why women love working at Freddie Mac. Here’s what she had to say.
Describe 1-5 employee benefits that positively impact women who work at Freddie Mac.
One of the many advantages of working at Freddie Mac is that our offerings are among the very best in the nation, and we’ve specifically designed them to evolve with the changing needs in your life — whether at work or at home. Some of the benefits include:
The New Mothers Program, including lactation rooms, education classes, 24/7 virtual support and a return-to-work consultation.
Back-up child and adult/elder care.
Adoption and surrogacy expense reimbursement.
Twelve weeks of parental leave, with additional six-to-eight weeks of paid leave available through short-term disability.
Coverage for in-vitro fertilization and fertility prescription drug benefits.
What career development opportunities can women job seekers expect at Freddie Mac? How is career pathing approached?
There are so many opportunities to propel your career at Freddie Mac. Whether you are taking employer-provided classes through FMYou, our internal learning platform, or attending an external learning program or even earning a degree with help from the company’s educational assistance reimbursement program, you can grow your career here.
In addition to assisting you with your educational goals, Freddie Mac also provides support for your growth on the job through performance enablement, career development programs, internal job transfers, performance recognition and much more.
Successful career pathing means changing jobs and roles. At any given time, Freddie Mac has open positions throughout the company and employees are encouraged to check the open career opportunities. We believe that even lateral moves can give you new skills and perspectives and help widen your network.
Is there anything else women should know about pursuing a career here?
Our Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are a great way to get involved here at Freddie Mac. These voluntary, employee-led groups provide unique learning and networking opportunities that foster an inclusive workforce where we help make home possible. BRG members enjoy new opportunities for personal and career development, all while focused on inclusion through collaboration and intersectionality. Members work with company leadership to address business challenges and opportunities now and in the future.
What are some unique benefits or perks that Freddie Mac offers employees?
First-time homebuyer benefit — We offer eligible first-time homebuyers up to $12,000 toward their home purchase to cover expenses such as down payments and closing costs, plus paid time off for closing.
Student loan repayment — We will help pay down an eligible employee’s student loan by making contributions totaling up to $9,000 over a five-year period.
Commuter benefits — We provide employees with up to $285 per month to cover their public transportation commuting costs.
Matching gifts program — We encourage and support giving back to the community and we match your charitable contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000 each year.
Adoption leave — You are eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave to care for your newly adopted child, so long as you are the primary caregiver.
Closing leave — You can take up to four hours paid leave to attend the closing on the purchase of your primary residence.
Educational Assistance Program — We offer reimbursement for accredited college, university or certification courses that will enhance your skills in your present position or prepare you for a future assignment with Freddie Mac.
Access to an on-site fitness center at headquarters and health club reimbursement for regional employees.
A comprehensive wellness program that offers services to assist in managing total well-being, including healthy dining choices in headquarters cafeterias and wellness incentives.
An on-site wellness center with a medical team that provides urgent and preventive care services at no cost.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Freddie Mac that you think they should?
When you think about mortgage and housing finance industry, you may think that it’s only suited for people who work in finance and housing jobs. But at Freddie Mac, whatever your skill set, you can make a difference. People of all backgrounds and skill sets help to make home possible, making it the perfect place to do meaningful work, no matter your field.
What’s one thing Freddie Mac does — whether a formal policy or program, or more in terms of office culture — that you think is particularly unique or unexpected?
I’d say the Polaris Program. At Freddie Mac, Polaris is a program designed to empower employees to find their North Star in their careers — a catalyst to help them develop the connections, knowledge and skills they need to excel at Freddie Mac and beyond.
Polaris, which kicked off just after Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2020, is open to members of the ARISE Business Resource Group, a network for promoting opportunities for Black employees and their allies through professional development. Each participant in Polaris is paired with a VP-level mentor and a manager-level coach.
What do employees say about working at Freddie Mac?
“I joined the company three years ago, and what’s different for me is the number of women we have in very visible, high-level roles. It’s a supportive environment, and I love that individuals in all different roles — men and women — don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for the appropriate advice.” — Terri Merlino, Single-Family SVP, Chief Credit Officer
“Our culture has focused on developing and promoting female leaders, and it’s supported by our male leaders, too. Starting at the highest level, our board is chaired by Sara Mathew, and women make up one-third of the board — both are rare for a large financial company. And for the first time, we have women — Debby Jenkins and Donna Corley — leading two of our three lines of business. When I look at all the companies I interact with, I’m the only female who has my position. It’s uncommon in the mortgage business, let alone the financial services industry.” — Leanne Spies, Multifamily SVP, Asset Management and Operations
“In my nearly two decades at Freddie Mac, I’ve managed communications during several crises. What has stood out for me during [the pandemic] is the strong sense of alignment across the leadership, the business lines and the firm as a whole. Everyone has shown impressive commitment, unity of purpose, a collaborative spirit and, importantly, a sense of humor. And the cadre of sharp women leaders at the helm is an important part of creating that culture. Nobody has a crystal ball, but the foundation of respect, trust and support we have has enabled us to navigate a thoughtful path forward, with one voice, for the benefit of our business and mission.”
— Lorig Armenian, VP, Strategic Communications & Marketing
“Freddie Mac has been home for me over the past 24 years. I have been inspired by and honored to deliver on our mission. And, in return, Freddie Mac has provided me with more throughout the various stages of my career and in my personal life. As a mother, attending my children’s sporting events was a priority for me. Freddie Mac provided me with the flexibility to be present at each and every game. As I continued along my career journey, Freddie Mac invested in my education and professional development. Even now, Freddie Mac has prioritized employee health and safety during the pandemic and afforded me the flexibility to spend more time with my aging father. Because I have experienced firsthand the many ways in which Freddie Mac has been ‘home to more’ for me, I am passionate that we ensure that all our employees, suppliers and community partners feel the same as we collectively execute on our mission.” — Angela “Angi” Locke, Interim Head of HR and Chief Diversity Officer
“I moved around frequently in my professional life, and, admittedly, I struggled to understand what the one who created me wanted me to do. But, about a year ago, I uncovered my personal North Star. I understood in that moment that my real work is to inspire, connect and encourage others in the pursuit of their alignment with their highest purpose. I do that every day in my work at Freddie Mac. There are so many people and so many opportunities to engage in the workplace.” — Patricia Williams, Single-Family Business Management Manager
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