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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

http://www.unfpa.org/resources/issue-7-women-empowerment

Women follow this link, so educative and inspiring. 

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society

2014 World Council Survey on Women's Participation in Credit Unions

World Council of Credit Unions conducted a survey on Women's Participation in Credit Unions in 2014.  The data was provided by 36 out of 46 respondents (78%) who were women from national CU associations.

Survey summary:  

  • Average percent of women members of credit unions: 43.8% (34 countries)
  • Average percent of women board members in credit unions: 27.5% (29 countries)
  • Percent of women CEOs of credit unions: 15% (30 countries)

Further details can be found in the Member Services folder of the Resource Library.

2014 WOCCU Survey: Women in CUs
Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Impact of Women in Society, Member Service, Program Updates

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

Kudos to the credit union community is more gender diverse than many industries. Filene Research Institute released a study, Women in Leadership: Obstacles and Opportunities, earlier this year, which states that two-thirds of CEOs at credit union with less than $50 million in assets are women. However, in the $100 million to $500 million range, the figure is only 20%, and at more than $500 million, the stat is just one in eight credit union CEOs are women. Globally, male CEOs dominate credit unions of all sizes. Then there’s this directly from the April report: Women comprised only 41% of credit union senior staff in 2012 despite making up 70% of the credit union workforce in the U.S.

The reasons for this vary. Certainly many women make legitimate decisions on the home front that they feel they can’t or don’t want to balance with a career. Filene’s April 2014 study noted that fewer women aspire to senior management. But it also found that employers nudge men and women in stereotypical directions that lead women to areas of the business that are not considered senior management track departments. For example, the head of HR is typically considered an “appropriate” role for women. Or marketing (which should be considered much more important than it generally is, but that’s another discussion).

What perpetuates the stereotyping? Society? Some basic evolutionary instinct? Whatever the cause, it needs to end. The statistics don’t need to move closer to 50-50 out of a sense of fairness. Diversification is not an equal rights issue. It’s a business continuity issue. Continuity in the sense of prosperity and the fact that there will not be enough qualified Gen X men to fill the spots vacated by those who will be retiring over the next decade. According to a University of California-Davis report, among the 400 public companies in California, the top 34 firms with the greatest gender diversity at the senior management level earned three times more revenue and 50% higher profit than the average company in the study.

In order to move toward greater equality and prosperity, we must acknowledge and educate. Part 2 of Filene’s research series is coming out next month, Credit Union Women in Leadership International Research Series Part 2: Attributes and Challenges. Filene is hosting a colloquium to discuss the results of the next survey on June 19. As of this writing the event had 68 registered attendees, only four of who are men and one is a professor at the University of Southern California where the event will be held. Go West!

Women’s issues are not just women’s issues. They are your business issues, your daughters’ and your wives’ life and career issues. It can be uncomfortable for men to address the issue of gender. I applaud the men at Filene like Mark Meyer and Ben Rogers for tackling this issue. Some male executives might be afraid of saying the wrong thing so they bury their heads in the sand, but Filene and the handful of men attending their colloquium are lassoing this issue that is bucking just under the surface to obtain a better grip on the future of the workplace, leadership and how it can improve credit unions.

“If you’re not aware of what the data says, then it’s easy to put it aside,” Rogers explained of Filene’s research. If it’s not in your life experience, it’s easier to turn a blind eye. True leaders read the landscape, saddle up and ride that pony—not off into the sunset but into the sunlight. Do you have the spurs?

By Sarah Snell Cooke, publisher/editor-in-chief of CU Times

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Engaging the Next Generation of CU Members, Impact of Women in Society

Take Time to Ask, What's Up, Doc?

I never go to the doctors. I know that's bad, but I'm relatively young and never had any health issues before. It's a waste of a lot of time (and money) to go for annual physicals only to have the doctor tell you you're fine, which you already knew. It's like asking a meteorologist what the weather is currently while standing next to an open window.

But you never know what's brewing over the horizon. As I'm rushing headlong toward 40 in the next couple of years, I'm finding it's not so hard to take the time as I previously thought. This is in part because I have come to realize the world does not fall apart if I spend an hour or two at the doctors every once in a while. Or when I finally determine a day or two when I can take time off, I actually make an effort to take the time off.

Women tend to take care of everyone but themselves, whether it's kids or parents or significant others. They insist any of those loved ones go to the doctor's office immediately or take it easy when they're not well, yet women do not require the same of themselves. Many work full time, come home often to do most if not all the domestic chores, volunteer, and run kids to various activities in the evening.
Given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that stress-related illnesses were twice as high in women than men, working women's health is of particular concern. Work-related stress was also linked to heart disease, muscle and bone disorders, depression and burnout. In fact, job stress affected immunological biomarkers in a test performed on female nurses. In addition, 1 in 8 adult women binge drink and a large percentage come from homes with $75,000 or more in household income. Women also feel nervous-or at least admit to it-more than men. The National Health Interview Survey by the CDC found that women felt nervous most if not all of the time in the 30 days running up to being interviewed for the study, while 12% of men said they did. And yet women's life expectancy increased. We must be tougher-go figure.

Women may be able to out-multitask men, but that doesn't mean we always should. Take time off to see the doctor or to kick your feet up with a glass (or two) of wine. How much damage can the men really do while we're away?

By Sarah Snell Cooke
Publisher/editor-in-chief of CU Times
Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society

Women on Board: Credit Unions Seek Volunteer Diversity

Great article in the CU Times today.  Some of our sisters are featured in this article that focuses on  the benefits of having women on boards, some of the barriers women are facing and ways to remove those barriers. 

http://www.cutimes.com/2014/02/12/women-on-board-credit-unions-seek-volunteer-divers?eNL=51520a1b140ba0ed7800006c&utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=CUT_eNLs&_LID=161803213

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Impact of Women in Society

Overcoming Barriers to Leadership for Young Women

I've posted a great document in the Resource Library.  The Conference Board of Canada published this briefing by Naoko Hawkins called "Overcoming Barriers to Leadership for Young Women".  The focus is on the barriers that millenial women are facing in advancing in leadership.  There is great food for thought here and I feel it is applicable for all women, not just millenials.  Take a look and let me know your thoughts!
Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society

Motherload Documentary

This 45 min Canadian documentary on motherhood aired on CBC earlier this month and can be viewed free online.  
It explores the growing demands of motherhood combined with the growing demands of the workforce while systems, workplace structures, and societal norms haven’t changed much from the beginning of the industrial revolution.  I'd be interested to hear from our sisters outside of North America to see if these experiences are similar for them too.
Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society

Leadership Story: The "Unseen" Barriers

I found this article particularly motivating and eye-opening as it conceptualizes leadership as something much more psychological and deep-rooted than it is usually discussed. It's not about "acting out" a leadership role but actually internally BEING the leader and knowing your worth. This sparked my memory from a developmental psychology course in college. In psychology, this could mean reaching the top of "Maslow's hierarchy of needs" – self-actualization.

The bottom of the pyramid is physiological needs, then safety, then love/belonging, then self-esteem, then self-actualization. The interpretation is that one cannot reach the top without successfully completeing each stage below. In this theory, self-esteem must come first.

I'm curious what others thoughts are on this excerpt, or if anyone else had a similar or different interpretation:

"As a person's leadership capabilities grow and opportunities to demonstrate them expand, high-profile, challenging assignments and other organizational endorsements become more likely. Such affirmation gives the person the fortitude to step outside a comfort zone and experiment with unfamiliar behaviors and new ways of exercising leadership. An absence of affirmation, however, diminishes self-confidence and discourages him or her from seeking developmental opportunities or experimenting. Leadership identity, which begins as a tentative, peripheral aspect of the self, eventually withers away, along with opportunities to grow through new assignments and real achievements. Over time, an aspiring leader acquires a reputation as having-or not having-high potential.

The story of an investment banker we'll call Amanda is illustrative. Amanda's career stalled when she was in her thirties. Her problem, she was told, was that she lacked "presence" with clients (who were mostly older men) and was not sufficiently outspoken in meetings. Her career prospects looked bleak. But both her reputation and her confidence grew when she was assigned to work with two clients whose CFOs happened to be women. These women appreciated Amanda's smarts and the skillful way she handled their needs and concerns. Each in her own way started taking the initiative to raise Amanda's profile. One demanded that she be present at all key meetings, and the other refused to speak to anyone but Amanda when she called-actions that enhanced Amanda's credibility within her firm. "In our industry," Amanda explains, "having the key client relationship is everything." Her peers and supervisors began to see her not just as a competent project manager but as a trusted client adviser-an important prerequisite for promotion. These relationships, both internal and external, gave Amanda the confidence boost she needed to generate ideas and express them forthrightly, whether to colleagues or to clients. Her supervisors happily concluded that Amanda had finally shed her "meek and mild-mannered" former self and "stepped up" to leadership.

Effective leaders develop a sense of purpose by pursuing goals that align with their personal values and advance the collective good. This allows them to look beyond the status quo to what is possible and gives them a compelling reason to take action despite personal fears and insecurities. Such leaders are seen as authentic and trustworthy because they are willing to take risks in the service of shared goals. By connecting others to a larger purpose, they inspire commitment, boost resolve, and help colleagues find deeper meaning in their work."

 

Read more: http://hbr.org/2013/09/women-rising-the-unseen-barriers/

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Engaging the Next Generation of CU Members

Putting that POV in Perspective

Sometimes it's hard to believe, but over time society has become a much less violent. In general, murder rates have gone down. One thing that has not changed in some places is the treatment of women. Unbelievably almost, child marriages still take place and bride burnings and acid attacks are nearly as common.

The myriad stories Sheryl WuDunn chronicles in her book, Half the Sky , co-written with her husband, fellow-Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, have helped her to appreciate what she has while still fighting for more for women around the world: More freedom, more healthcare, more food, more respect. Just more.

Following her address at the Global Women's Leadership Network during the World Council of Credit Unions ' Annual Meeting, I had the privilege of sitting down with Sheryl to discuss the book, American women's career advancement issues, life and, yes, credit unions."What I really liked was that the credit union was founded on the principal of microsavings," Sheryl explained about why she was attracted to speak to the credit union group. Half the Sky is fraught will stories of women who gain access to capital and enabled to build a better life for themselves and their families, overcoming conditions unimaginable in the U.S. Take for example, Goretti Nyabenda of Burundi in Africa, who disobeyed her drunken husband to form a CARE group, which brought women together to talk about their circumstances and pool their meager funds to take turns borrowing from the pool of funds. Additionally visiting nurses provide basic healthcare and HIV testing. Goretti bought fertilizer with the money she borrowed from her CARE group to improve her potato crop, which served her very well. She was able to expand her banana beer business and to buy a pregnant goat that brought her another goat a few weeks later and milk. At night the goats come into her family's home to sleep so no one will steal them. This is Goretti's success story.

The tale from halfway around the world certainly puts things into perspective for women in developed countries like the U.S. dealing with workplace challenges. Those are still very important and working women still deserve greater progress, but the story of Goretti and others in Half the Sky helps ground us. Microfinance in developing countries is also an area where WOCCU and credit unions can have a significant impact, and already are.

What Goretti learned and built herself with was a network. Female professionals must do the same. It's time to stop taking pity on Goretti, and take a lesson from her. Sheryl WuDunn emphasized this point with me during our conversation. "You need to be a part of a network and networks only work if there's trust among the network," she emphasized. Women who achieve success also need to realize that they have to help the women below them on the corporate ladder in order to stay on top.

It's a point the Sheryl Sandberg also made in Lean In. Some of the well-established female executive built their careers during a time when it was fashionable to have a token woman among the senior ranks-but only one. That led some to keep other women down.The modern female executive must keep in mind, as Sheryl WuDunn added, "You don't get to stay on the top if you don't build support from the bottom."

She continued, "Everybody's heard of the old boys' network and that was very effective...Women just want other things that they can talk about and build camaraderie around." It's human nature that people feel more comfortable around other people like them, but female managers must be careful to expand their networks beyond other women. Sheryl advised that networks should be co-ed because we can all learn a lot from each other.

 

By Sarah Snell Cooke

Publisher/editor-in-chief of CU Times

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Events, Facilitating Greater Access to CUs Worldwide, Impact of Women in Society

Documentary Viewing

Servus Credit Union Women's Network recently held a viewing for it's members on the Jennifer Siebel Newsom documentary called "Miss Representation".  We had a terrific turnout from our network members and started a great conversation around women's portrayal in the media.  This has been the third time I've viewed this film, but it never gets old.  The first time was at an International Womens Day event, the second I watched it at home with my family and most recently with our network. 

I've had time to reflect on the message of the film and thought about how media impacts our roles within the business world.  It would be easy to say that the lack of women in senior roles or leadership positions lays solely at the door of the media, but that would be blatantly false and unrealistic.  Within the documentary the director contradicts herself by quoting Marian Wright Edelman "You can't be what you can't see".  She then has Condaleeza Rice stating that all of the women pioneers, including Sally Ride - the first American woman in space - didn't have another woman to look up to.  That they simply had a drive to do something they were passionate about.  We need to stop waiting for other women to break down the barriers that we see or perceive are out there and start taking responsibility for what we see as failures within the corporate world. 

While we may not be getting the help we need from the media in showing our young women and men what 'real women' look like or have the ability to be, we have to take responsibility for our own actions.  Ultimately, it's my responsibility to show my daughter that her appearance - while important - isn't more important than her intellect, or her personality. Or that the women she watches on Jersey Shore are most definitely not to be emulated.  I don't necessarily believe that not watching certain shows will wake up  media into changing their programming. What this film does provide however, is an awareness. I feel having an awareness of what's being portrayed is almost more important. It allows us to have these conversations, to steer our children (both male and female) in the right direction and provide the guidance that we should be offering and not leave it up to the TV to do that.  Perhaps, by building confidence and allowing them to see that women are just as powerful as men we'll start to see more women within leadership positions. 

Anyway, that's enough proselytizing from me!  Check out the film, it's a great conversation starter.  You can purchase the DVD on Amazon for about $20.

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society
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