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
These days everyone is thinking about drawing on the power of the internet to promote themselves, their business, and their professional career as well as reach the younger generations. But most of us do not have endless amounts of cash to pay for the training, and also don't have schedules that allow for formal classes. And still many others don't live in an area where training is available.
I've been an ongoing student of all things "internet" for a while now and have compiled a great list of 6 sites that provide free training, templates, services, and ways to stay connected with the ever changing world that is digital marketing. If you're considering the world of digital marketing, I strongly advise you to take your time. Read about the different channels, start small, and allow yourself the time to learn while you grow. Just jumping in can result in much money spent, without much in the way of return. Free sites are plentiful, but unless you have the time to check them out, they may do more harm than good. For a start, I'd recommend sites like distilled, surveymonkey, hubspot and subscribing to bloggers like Avinash Kaushik and Occam's Razor for some honest and trustworthy support. To read more about these sites, you can check out my article, 6 Free Online Marketing Resources, recently published by Yahoo! I think that when we learn, we should share what we can, so hopefully this information will help you in your career.
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."
Mobile remittances, referred to as the "next generation" of electronic payments via the mobile channel, have various benefits. For example, many people in rural areas do not have access to traditional financial services, but do own cell phones. Therefore, the latter part is absolutely ideal for mobile-banking outreach. So, World Council of Credit Unions "provided software and technical assistance to the Le Levier Federation of credit unions to launch 'Boom'--a mobile banking product. It is the first mobile product in Haiti to connect user transactions to credit union current accounts rather than use stored cellphone value. Offered by more than 60 credit union locations nationwide, Boom offers Haitians the ability to register, deposit and transfer funds to registered and unregistered users for free and to make low-cost cash withdrawals within seconds via their cellphones," (July 2013 news release). The following is a true story about Boom, and an invaluable example of the kind of personalization and close ties that credit unions have with their members.
One day at a Haitian credit union, a staff member named *Anne received a call that the internet was down at a neighboring credit union in Port-au-Prince-and they needed to perform a payout for a customer. Anne and *John, a World Council staff member, made a detour to resolve the problem. They arrived at the credit union, and John offered his personal laptop and satellite internet connection to perform the transaction. After a few failed attempts, they were unable to process the transaction. They then inquired with the customer and learned that he had received a text message about a company called "Boom."
Anne and John asked the customer if he had called Boom's customer service line to resolve the issue. He replied that he hadn't called because his phone had just ran out of minutes. John then happily introduced himself as a Boom representative informing the customer about the company and how mobile remittances work. The customer was pleasantly surprised, appreciative, and decided to register on the very same laptop. After the first few steps, the member's phone died before he was able to finish. Once again, John gave him his own phone to complete the registration process.
The member's withdrawal was finally completed. To finish the process, Anne and John took a screen shot of the member's receipt, saved it to a thumb drive, and transferred the data to the customer's account to print later for his own records. Before leaving, the customer turned to both of them and said, "Wait...it's as if you came just for me, right? I have been waiting here for 2 hours waiting for the internet to work to get my money, and then you show up from Boom!" Anne thanked him for his patience and made sure he felt settled with everything. He then went on to say, "I'm so excited to try this new service." The man was also happy to hear that he was now a member of the credit union. He explained that he had always thought about joining a credit union, but was hesitant and unsure. Now, he felt eager, comfortable, and excited to take advantage of the opportunity given to him through Boom. This was a genuine highlight for John to witness how the customer felt Boom made a personal visit, just for him.
So how does this short story relate to Global Women's Leadership Network? First, this is an undeniable example of a committed member-first attitude from a credit union leader. Moreover, take a look at what John wrote about how the General Manager inspired him as well as others:
"The General Manager, *Mary, of this credit union was and is an incredible natural female leader. In addition to being the General Manger, she sells Mary Kay and welcomes many of her members with a smile and a hug. It is truly ‘relationship banking' as we so often hear in the U.S. You immediately sense that certain intangible kindness and warmth in her when you meet her.
The reason all of this matters is because Mary is always the first to try new technological things and does so out of implicit trust in her credit union league because they have a long-standing relationship which has established that trust. It isn't about pricing negotiations, blaming others when things go wrong, or making sure she's in control--as some male leaders are prone to do--it's about trying new things and taking risks because she wants to improve her members' lives. There are bigger, more sophisticated credit unions in the federation--but if you want to try something new you go first to this credit union and talk with Mary."
Social Media Intern
World Council of Credit Unions
*=Names of people and institutions have been changed to maintain privacy.
"Haiti: World Council to Explore Mobile Utility Payment Solutions for Sustainable Electricity Program." World Council of Credit Unions. World Council, 11 July 2013. View for the full news release.
Wolf, Saul. Manager of Remittance Services, World Council of Credit Unions.
"Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership" By Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, Harvard Business Review (2007)
The full article from The Harvard Business Review can be viewed here: http://citt.hccfl.edu/Newsletters/NewsletterID1.pdf
Both of these women are writers, researchers, and professors of psychology. Studying the findings of these two women during my time at UW-Madison has compelled me enough to share this piece with you.
Starting out with jaw-dropping statistics that many of you may not already know, Eagly & Carli propose that the "glass ceiling" has shattered--but the challenges are far from over. They argue that it has shattered because there are some women who are now able to permeate through that glass--at a cost. They relate the current challenge of women leadership to pursuing a labyrinth, with "walls all around."
They state: "As a contemporary symbol, it conveys the idea of a complex journey toward a goal worth striving for. Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one's progres, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead" (pg. 2).
The richness of how Eagly and Carli convey the obstacles that make up the "labyrinth" of women's leadership is informative, and covers deep-rooted gender dynamics that many people haven't come to terms with yet. Most importantly, in my opinion, is the obstacle they describe called the "double bind," which is a term that describes the pulls and tugs on women to completely embody both communal "caring" leadership style, while also being agentic and sturdy. If a woman is to lean too far in one direction for a moment, the criticism will begin and the stereotypes start reinforcing themselves. Studies have investigated this phenomenon, about whether this "double bind" exists for men leaders, and results found overall that "men can communicate in a warm or dominant manner, with no penalty either way" (pg. 4).
Lastly, Eagly and Carli provide us with a list of valuable management interventions that can actually work in aiding other women's journey through the labyrinth. These interventions are essential, to say the least, and should be shared amongst women in management roles and beyond.
If you enjoyed reading this article, I would highly recommend their book: "Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders" (2007). One reviewer, Chris Nicholson, expressed Eagly & Carli's book eloquenty: "Too often the beliefs people espouse make gender inequalities seem natural by justifying 'accidents' of history that have assigned men and women uneven roles. 'Through the Labyrinth' (2007) is not one of those books." I couldn't agree more, Chris.
My questions for the Network:
- Have you tried to help implement these interventions that the authors provide us? Which do you see have the most potential, and why?
- Further, what do you think of the claim that the "glass ceiling" is no longer the most valuable way of describing the obstacles in women's leadership?
Intern, World Council of Credit Unions
The cover letter on a Government Accountability Office report to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee states that women comprise nearly half of the workforce at 47% as of July 2010. While the number of women earning college degrees has tripled between 1970 and 2008, the letter read, they are less well represented among management. The GAO cited the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data, which found that female officials and managers in the private sector increased from just over 29% in 1990 to 36.4% in 2002. Women must do their own legwork to raise our collective stature beyond the height of our pumps in 2013.
Between 2000 and 2007, male to female ratios in management was flat across 13 sectors, the GAO found. In 2007 women accounted for 40% of managers and 49% of nonmanagers, while figures from 2000 indicate women represented 39% of managers and 49% of nonmanagers.
The GAO also found that female managers in 2007 had less education, were younger on average, were more likely to work part-time, and were less likely to be married or have children, than male managers. A lot of these factors are very personal choices and they all can be for very noble reasons. It’s nothing anyone else can decide for you. You’re welcome to the sisterhood if and when you’re ready.
But when your personal journey leads you toward career aspirations, do it right. When a job a level up becomes available, go for it. No one else is going to do it for you. Don’t just hope to get recognized. Management wants someone who can demonstrate they’re a leader and can assert themselves. Gather advice from mentors and colleagues, pull up your big-girl pants and go for it.
Not only are women underrepresented in management, but pay differences also continue to tug at our skirt hemlines. On average, married female managers earned the majority of household wages, but her share was smaller than the average male married manager; this statistic held steady between 2000 and 2007, according to the GAO. The pay gap did narrowed slightly between 2000 and 2007. After taking into account factors such as education level, the GAO estimated that female managers earn 81 cents to men’s dollar in 2007. This was up from 79 cents in 2000, and varied depending upon the sector.
The authors of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating recommend asserting yourself in salary negotiations from the start. A study of Carnegie Mellon University graduates discovered that male students were eight times more likely to negotiate for a larger starting salary than female students. The authors stated that was, in part, due to women’s poor negotiation skills or foregoing it entirely. They cite the experience of Maria Dorner, CEO of NewsMD Communications when early in her career, she took her mother’s advice: “You need them more than they need you.” She quickly learned this was the wrong strategy for valuing her work. She asked for double and got it only to learn that a male counterpart had just asked for and received triple. That might be a bit of an extreme example, but the idea is 1) know what you’re worth in the market that you’re in; and 2) be sure to assert yourself to achieve a fair goal. You are worth it—to yourself and your employer.
By Sarah Snell Cooke, publisher/editor-in-chief, Credit Union Times
The Network is happy to announce that we now have a group profile on LinkedIn. You can search for us under "Global Women's Leadership Network (World Council of Credit Unions)" or click here to see our page. Please join the group and feel free to start discussions on our wall. We also invite you to share the group with other women leaders in the credit union industry. Non-members are welcome!
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Community Outreach, CU Boards / Volunteers, Engaging the Next Generation of CU Members, Events, Facilitating Greater Access to CUs Worldwide, Financial/Risk Management, Growing CU Market Share, Impact of Women in Society, Internal Operations, Marketing, Member Service, Networking, Member Discussions, Program Updates, Regulatory Issues, Technology
Mais oui, ze French-or more precisely Societe Generale, a French bank-began offering a pink and gold credit card called "Pour Elle," complete with handbag insurance and handyman assistance. It vows to "simplify" women's lives and an article written about it quotes a bank spokesperson saying it targets "those who wish to adhere to their femininity."
Their clientele seems very hi-end so it might work for them but the very idea among commoners like me portrays women as helpless-one might even say hopeless. Women are influential cogs in the economy and marketing to a target audience can be good, but personally I am now finding it tough to keep lunch down. (I'm sorry, was that not ladylike?)
Women can be a powerful force in the workplace, too, and remain feminine. I'm not talking about the old days of low-cut blouses and tight skirts, but truth be told women can get away with a lot more than men in the wardrobe department. Look at attention-grabbing garb of someone like CO-OP's Sarah Canepa Bang. Not everyone can pull her style off but you know when she enters a room.
I couldn't get away with it but there are subtler ways of parting the pinstriped seas while adhering to your femininity. The thing about your professional femininity is it's how you define it and want to project it. Many times we do feel the pressure to conform in this man's world, whether to what the way they behave or the way they think (or we think they think) women should behave.
Women can and should assert themselves more. Women are less likely to negotiate for compensation and benefits, which can do great damage to your personal and financial well being over time. Know your priorities, whether they're financial or extra time off or other benefits, before entering the room, and don't leave until you're satisfied that they've all been addressed if not necessarily adopted.
Women are less apt to continue pushing an idea for a product or service or process after hearing ‘no' from on high. Pick your battles, but if you've done your research and know this will be beneficial to your business then wait a while and bring it up again. The worst that will likely happen is you'll be told no again. If you're idea is accepted and successful refer back to the last paragraph, but if you don't support a project you believe in, you won't have the opportunity at review time to say look what revenue or savings I've brought to this organization.
I've also heard the statistic from executive consultant Holly Herman (I don't recall the original source) that women won't apply for a job to move up a level unless they know they can already do 80% of it while men will apply for jobs they think they can handle 40% of. That's the kind of confidence women need to succeed and succeed even faster. Know the basics and quickly muddle your way through the rest until you know that, too.
Even something as simple as offering a firm handshake can go a long way (but do it femininely so you don't chip your nails). These behaviors aren't unfeminine. Make them your feminine, because we don't need our lives simplified with purse insurance. And, if you own a purse that needs insuring, 1) your life's already too complicated and 2) you can afford to hire your own handyman.
By Sarah Snell Cooke
Credit Union Times
As demographics and history progress, more female executives are growing into leadership roles Credit Union Times wanted to highlight them in various states of their career paths. In 2011, we launched our Women to Watch program to shine a spotlight on women who are making a difference in the credit union community and serve as role models for others. With that rise comes great responsibility. Up and coming female professionals need mentors and let’s face it: sometimes it’s easier for us (and often men, too) to ask questions and seek guidance from women. Women tend to be more attentive to others’ needs and better listeners. (My husband refuses to toss his cruddy old t-shirt that reads: She says I don’t listen, or something like that.) Whether it’s instinctual or a simply upbringing, it’s true. With 66% of women 18-34 rating career high on their list of priorities compared to men of the same age group at 59%, female mentors are becoming a hot commodity.Credit Union Times recently featured women professionals of the credit union support system at CUTimes.com/W2W and in our Oct. 3 issue. These women, including the Global Women’s Leadership Network’s Sue Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates, are professionals to be admired and respected for a whole slew of reasons. When you read their personal philosophies, you see things like:
- Be honest.
- Be flexible.
- Be the person you look up to.
- Seek opportunities.
- Be curious and creative.
- Make a difference.
- Do what’s right.
Demonstrating leadership isn’t rocket science and it’s not a women or men’s issue. These are human issues. But mentors can serve the important role of keeping others on track, steering them from burning a bridge in a temporary fit of anger, and guiding them through the gray areas.Not all women or men want to be in the corner office. Some prefer to be the best they can be at whatever their area of interest is. That’s great! It takes everyone working together—men and women, CFOs, IT and marketing directors, volunteers and professionals—and respecting and using everyone to their strengths while acknowledging our own weaknesses to operate a successful organization. Mentors can help bring that out in you execs.
Willingness to cooperate and collaborate and getting others to work together harmoniously is a great strength of women in general and perhaps why they’ve been more successful in the credit union community than other industries.
By Sarah Snell Cooke
Credit Union Times
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- Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions
- Community Outreach
- CU Boards / Volunteers
- Engaging the Next Generation of CU Members
- Facilitating Greater Access to CUs Worldwide
- Financial/Risk Management
- Growing CU Market Share
- Impact of Women in Society
- Internal Operations
- Member Discussions
- Member Service
- Program Updates
- Regulatory Issues