Women follow this link, so educative and inspiring.
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.
- 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.
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
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
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.
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."
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
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.
Here is a recent article regarding the increase of focus on "feminine values".
"Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership" By Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, Harvard Business Review (2007)July 19, 2013 (August 01, 2013) | 0 Comments |
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
Joseph Heller's Catch 22 was one of my favorite books I read in high school. It's a satire of the craziness of war and the phrase ‘catch 22,' meaning being caught in a no-win situation, came from the novel. "Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them," it reads. "If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to." This epitomizes female executives' leadership progress.
Jean Lau Chin wrote in her Forum on Public Policy Online article, "Women and Leadership: Transforming Visions and Current Contexts," that women are stuck in a Catch-22. Assertive behavior from women is frowned upon but not being assertive only lead to being ignored. "Contradictory portrayals of women leaders pose obstacles to how they lead, and often result in different standards than those applied to men. Women leaders are alternately portrayed as ‘soft and ineffective' or ‘domineering and manipulative,'" she wrote. Definitely sounds familiar to me and I'm sure some of you reading this.
Fortunately modern leadership trends tend more toward women's collaborative in nature. Chin noted that their collaborative skills are "increasingly central to views of effective leadership." A variety of contemporary leadership theories, she contended, could help to mitigate unintentional discrimination, including:
• Contingency or situational leadership theory is based upon the idea that various situations require different types of leadership;
• Shared leadership and empowerment; and
• Transformational leadership that is more value driven, ethics based and social change oriented leadership.
Appropriate leadership development can help women progress into leadership positions and be successful when they reach them. Robyn Ely, Herminia Ibarra and Deborah Kolb wrote in, "Taking Gender Into Account: Theory and Design for Women's Leadership Development Programs," that women's career trajectories were not on par with the men's among graduates of top business schools. Females' advancement in their careers has even slowed in recent years, they wrote. So the group set out to design training programs that don't merely "fix the women" so they can play the men's game, but also provide women the tools to do the "identity work" to become true leaders. Developing a leader identity involves internalizing the leader identity and developing an elevated sense of purpose for the work your organization is doing.
Women naturally seek to be authentic, which may not align with what is necessary to become leaders. Women prefer substantive careers and that can run counter to becoming the professional they can be. Ely and her associates recommended investing time and effort into strong 360-degree feedback and coaching to help women executives see how they are viewed by their bosses, colleagues and subordinates. Ely reported that many who had gone through this process were shocked at how low they were ranked by executives. After letting that settle, then the women are advised on how to improve their performance or better promote the work they really are performing.
What do you think? Are you willing to submit to this type of review, or is it just crazy?
By Sarah Snell Cooke
Credit Union Times
As female leaders in the corporate world, I'm sure Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In, has caught your attention. Whether or not you agree with it, this book by the female COO of Facebook is receiving a great deal of hype and is certainly relevant to our Network's goals.
If you have not had a chance to read the book, I will start with a brief summary. Lean In is the expansion of a message Sandberg introduced during the TED talk she gave back in 2010, titled "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders." Her presentation of data from all over the globe proves one point- women are not occupying an equal amount of top leadership positions to men in ANY field in ANY country. This extends to politics, the corporate world, nonprofits, and other fields. Although women have climbed in numbers in most sectors since the 1960's, their figures have stagnated in the last ten years and some are even decreasing. She highlights prejudices society still holds against women in the workforce and the ways in which women may also hold themselves back. To combat these problems, Sandberg proposes several ways women can change their approach, including "Sit at the table," "Make your partner a real partner," and "Don't leave before you leave." "Sit at the table" refers to women taking what is theirs and believing that they have what it takes to move up in the company, because "no one gets to the corner office by sitting on the sidelines." She points out that, according to statistics, women systematically underestimate their abilities while men tend to overestimate theirs. She thinks that if women become more confident in themselves, there will eventually be more of them at the top. Referring to "make your partner a real partner," she states that in order for it to become easier and more acceptable for women to rise to the "C level" jobs, it will have to become more acceptable for men to become "stay-at-home dads" as well. Working mothers currently spend significantly more time doing household chores and rearing their children than their male partners do, and a more 50/50 arrangement between couples would help keep women in the workforce. Finally, she talks about "not leaving before you leave," which refers to not leaving "the game" mentally before you actually need to leave for a child. This means that women who may be planning to get married or have a child at some point in the future should not pass up opportunities in anticipation of these life changes, but should "lean in" instead. By "leaning in," a woman can seize valuable career opportunities that will raise her income and make her job more challenging, which will in turn make it more likely that she will return to the workforce afterward.
After her book was released, I noticed a barrage of opinion articles by women with negative reactions to Sandberg's message, mostly on the grounds that it is "irrelevant" to the majority of women. Many decry the fact that she is a millionaire who can obviously afford to pay for childcare, unlike many women in the workforce. Others say she isn't relatable because she assumes most women have a "partner" to make into a "real partner," which many women don't. Still others have said that she is warping the feminist cause by shifting the blame for low numbers of women at top levels to women themselves instead of society. Some have compared her book to "The Feminine Mystique" in the sense that it only relates to a small, affluent part of the population.
For all the scorn she has received from opinion columns on Fox News, Forbes, and others, I believe there are certain axioms from her speech and book that transcend race, income level, and marital status. To dismiss her point of view as unique to only her life situation is truly a shame. When a male business mogul writes a book about how to become successful, it is hardly thinkable that men would discard his ideas simply because they are not relevant to every single type of man. Sheryl openly admits that her advice is not suitable for everyone and that the workforce isn't the right place for every woman, but she has many suggestions for those who choose to stay. I take issue with the fact that people say she blames women for their own misfortunes. Her aim is to empower us in our professional lives by asking us to own our strengths and successes more forcefully. She relies heavily on data in her speeches so she can highlight the fact that that gender bias still exists in our society but that there are ways women may better equip themselves to overcome it. Sandberg believes that having more women in charge would make the world a more equal place and would very much like to see this happen through a change in attitudes toward gender roles.
As I listened to the TED talk and skimmed her book, I could not help but think about the Global Women's Leadership Network's mission. Utilizing Sandberg's ideas could build women up and cause our Network could expand greatly. What are your thoughts on Lean In's message? Would you apply it in your own credit union or cooperative? If so, how?
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
Women are good at networking with other women. Perhaps it's because they're more comfortable. The problem is that women are limiting their professional growth opportunities because, as we all know, women do not comprise the majority of top-level executives. That's not to say that women's groups don't have their place, but networking must necessarily extend beyond them.
Career Development International published a case study in 2011 that studied the impact of women's networks on participants' careers and the executives at the organization. They preface that report, stating that very little research has been done regarding the actual impact of women's networks on organizations. However, it did cite previous research stating, "The success or failure of these efforts is dependent on how they are perceived by organizational members-both men and women."
When studying organized networks intended to help promote diversity, the CDI article found very different viewpoints between what the members expected from the group and how executive management viewed it. Both sides saw it as a way to increase women in leadership in the case study. However, the executives, only one of whom was a woman, viewed it primarily as a mentoring vehicle and promoting diversity; the female group members looked at the women's network as strategic opportunity for the company that would benefit the bottom line, in addition to networking.
Women network differently than men, which impacts their careers. According to the article, women's networks tend to be smaller groups with stronger bonds and more homogenous than men's networks. Men's networking is a mile wide and an inch deep, but it serves the purpose of helping them advance professionally because they hear about opportunities and come into contact with a lot of people. Women also have more women in their networks, and because women are less visible at the upper levels of management, they have fewer opportunities to meet informally with top executives. The proverbial good old boys' club comes into play when they talk business on hunting trips or over cigars.
Women and Leadership: Closing the Gender Gap, published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching & Mentoring, cited a presentation during an Oxford Brookes University conference which suggested that informal influencing networks might be more useful that straight networking. The idea is to align with like-minded colleagues who will help push your goal forward, creating an "influencing path" based on who's trusted by key players.
Female executives must recognize the importance of possessing the right kind of connections, as well as broader networks. At the same time, male executives should think to expand their horizons beyond the hunting lodge or golf course. As women will naturally become a larger part of senior management, it's crucial to everyone to ensure well-rounded networking for all.
By Sarah Snell Cooke
In honor of International Women's Day, we would like to alert you to the fact that PBS aired a special last week on "Women who Make America," which is available online at this link.
Two authors look beyond the stereotypes to examine the research-based evidence about the leadership traits women possess. (Psst: They lead straight to success.)
Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
In the era of post-post-feminism, let's just admit it: Men and women are--or at least can be--different in certain ways. And some of those ways show up at the workplace. Some even show up in the C-suite. So, let's take the time to ponder how that, well, works.
To put it simply: Do women lead differently?
According to Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson, the answer is an uniquivocal yes. What's more interesting, though, is that they believe that leadership by a woman tends to yield very desirable results--including better odds of business profitability and creation of more businesses that are fundamentally creative and innovative.
For two decades, Hadary, the founding executive director of the Center for Women's Business Research, and Henderson, founder of Prospect Associates, a $20-million health communications and biomedical research firm, have been conducting research on women in leadership roles. What they confirmed is that the women leaders with multi-million-dollar businesses combine their unique feminine leadership with sound business acumen to achieve their highest aspirations.
In their recent book, How Women Lead: The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know, the authors also cite the latest academic research affirming that women's leadership styles are condusive to success. (For instance, MIT found that the most creative and productive groups included women. Also, Pepperdine University reported that businesses with more women in leadership reported higher financial results than those with fewer women leaders.)
Hadary and Henderson offer these success strategies for leaders who wish to maximize their strengths with solid business acumen to become a high-potential leader.
1. Own Your Destiny--and Judge Yourself Only by Your Own Metrics
One fascinating fact illuminated by this recent research is that women who achieve most are also women who define success in their own terms and integrate achieving high financial goals with creating a business that reflects their passions. Their businesses provide socially responsible products and services, offer opportunities for employees to thrive, make a positive difference in the community, and simultaneously create personal wealth for the owner.
Successful entrepreneurs establish high goals and when they achieve their goals, they move the bar even higher.
"Women should think of their businesses as a $1 million business from Day One," says Henderson. "This drives how they structure the business, the decisions they make, and the way they present themselves and the business."
2. Lead Like a Woman
Highly successful women are likely to build on their leadership strengths of collaboration, inclusion, and consultation. The result within a company is a culture where everyone's ideas and insights are heard and considered in making decisions and where people feel valued and, therefore, are committed to achieving organizational goals.
There's something else that seems to be specific to women's leadership styles: Women think more holistically. That means, when women view a situation, they have a tendency go beyond the specific facts and the numbers to take into account personnel and organization considerations. As a result, they identify opportunities, risks, and gaps that others often miss, strengthening their competitive edge.
3. Numbers Tell Stories. Become a Translator of These
Never undermine your credibility as a businesswoman by opening a discussion with a statement about your lack of business acumen. Learn about finance and speak about it in its own language. The women business owners and leaders with the largest, fastest-growing organizations produce more financial reports more frequently than those with slower growing businesses. They identify the key metrics that give them the insights they need and embrace financial knowledge as a major part of their strategic decision-making.
4. Build Exceptional Teams
Hire the best from the very beginning and avoid the common mistake of hiring executives from a large company. You need leaders who can work effectively in a fast-moving, entrepreneurial organization. These are people who have the ability to commit to a bigger cause and possess values congruent with yours, curiosity and critical thinking skills, common sense, people and relationship skills, risk taking skills, and respect, admiration, and tolerance for the entrepreneur. Hiring to these characteristics will result in a team that can identify and implement solutions to the evolving challenges of the entrepreneurial business.
5. Nurture Your Greatest Asset: You
Avoid becoming so caught up in your work you cannot see the world around you. Focus on integrating all aspects of your life and treat your time and energy as scarce resources--as scarce and valuable as any item in your budget. Establish priorities based on your values and goals and use them to make decisions about accepting requests for your time.
The most successful leaders are life-long learners. Set aside time to attend conferences and seminars, read, participate in networks that provide industry knowledge, and meet with experts. Don't forget to complement your professional networks with personal networks of friends, like-minded women, and colleagues who will share experiences and knowledge, support you in the tough times, and celebrate with you over successes.
6. Celebrate the Journey
Recognize that success is not a one-time shot. It is about composing a life over time. Take the time to enjoy the journey and celebrate the successes along the way.
Stay open to serendipity--the joys and opportunities that appear unexpectedly in life--whether at work or in your personal life. Beware of missing or dismissing these opportunities because you are so focused on your day-to-day plan. Be open to saying: "Yes, let's try it and see where it leads."----Marla Tabaka
When you hear the phrase ‘emotional intelligence,' my biased, knee-jerk reaction is that women are superior. However, when you dig down into what comprises emotional intelligence, they aren't necessarily.
In the article, "The Emotional Intelligence of Leaders" that appeared in the publication Leader to Leader, Daniel Goleman outlines five dimensions (cue Aquarius) of leaders: Self-awareness, manage emotions, exhibit optimism, show empathy, and stay connected.
Somehow when society shifted from hunting and gathering to a formal work place, the philosophy followed that personal stuff stays at home. No emotions at work. The truth is that's impossible. Whether you've got a big report due for the board or you're having difficulty finding the right person to fill a position, it causes stress, and humans respond-well or poorly-to stress. And these feelings trickle out to your team.
Men tend to get angry about their anxieties because they see it as a weakness, and men hate that. Their anger is conveyed overtly or in subtle ways. Women tend to become unsure of themselves and, thus the goal or the means to it. When a leader is unsure, that uncertainty affects her ability to lead people anywhere. And then there are the women who try to play 'like the men.'
Being tuned in and accepting what your feeling allows you to slow down, consider what's going on, the environment and the ramifications. You feel in control, and so you're optimistic that even if something isn't going as planned, you can adapt to change the outcome. You don't berate or blame others; you just find a solution or scrap the project as necessary.
I participated in a very intriguing LinkedIn discussion in a professional women's group asking whether participants preferred male or female bosses. The comments I read were heavily weighted toward preferring male bosses. Huh?
Maybe women aren't as emotionally evolved as they think. Many of the commenters described the cattiness of their female bosses. Perhaps the female bosses were feeling threatened by the up-and-coming talent, and after all they'd worked for, they weren't going to be shown up by the young blond in the slightly short skirt.
This is not a game we should be playing because no one's going to win. Your people make you look good, so let them shine, male or female. Keep them engaged and be engaged in what you're doing. If you're doing that, 1) you're not going to be threatened, and 2) hope that you've cultivated a loyalty there that can serve your business, and even you personally.
By Sarah Snell Cooke
Credit Union Times
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
Men—you know I love ‘em. Even married one once. They can be tyrannical and territorial or they can be fatherly and supportive.My headline was satirical. Men are absolutely part of the solution to gender diversity in the work place. They have to be because they rule a lot of this roost. Historically it was by design but I like to think that’s not the case with most male executives any more.Just like my headline though you’ll see a lot of books regarding advancement of female executives with titles like, The Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys and The End of Men. It’s entirely the wrong attitude to present to truly accomplish diversity, and if you look beyond the titles you’ll see they’re sensationalized for marketing rather than actually representing feminazi dogma.Even if some men aren’t on board they need to be brought on board. We’re in this lopsided situation because a subset of people was excluded. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. We need men (see first line).Dragging over the fence sitters and opponents take business sense, so here are millions of reasons for equity among the executive ranks. According to a 2011 McKinsey study, women represented 37% of all jobs in 1970 and that figure climbed to nearly 48% by 2009, adding nearly 37 million women. McKinsey contends that without them, our economy would be 25% smaller. Additionally, the U.S. has about 76% of all women working versus 87% in Sweden. Even the outlying states only reach 84%, which suggests there’s room for growth, McKinsey contends, and adding 3-4% to the U.S. economy. Pull that down from the clouds and apply it to the credit union industry, and it’s still a substantial number.A greater portion of middle management women (31%) than entry-level (16%) aspires to the upper ranks so focus on these professionals first, McKinsey found. Mentor them or if you are one of them, find a mentor, male or female. Also, increasing that layer of women in middle management helps grow the upwardly mobile pool even further.An Oct. 31 column by American Banker Editor-at-Large Barbara A. Rehm followed the remarks of Irene Dorner, CEO of HSBC USA. Rehm quoted her as saying in her acceptance speech as the most powerful woman in banking, “Do more to create a level playing field for women…Do it because meritocracy is a step towards renewing our industry. Do it because there are a lot of women out there who can get us where we want to be. And do it because it’s right.”
Her words are great and her speech reportedly very inspiring, but think about how much more powerful it would be if a male executive had made that speech. Men must be part of the solution to gender equality.
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
In the article, Designing for Women: The Mobile Challenge (http://blog.usaid.gov/2012/09/building-a-better-user-experience-the-mobile-chapter/#.UGYAg65SAvg.email), Christopher Burns, economic growth and agricultural development advisor of USAID, said “Mobile phones are a real game changer when it comes to tackling global challenges around the world but if the design does not change, hundreds of millions of women risk being left out in this next mobile revolution. That is a risk we cannot afford to take.”
Burns conducted research in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, that shows on average resource-poor women are 22% less likely to want a mobile phone because they don’t know how to use it.Do your credit union members know how to access their financial information through their mobile phones? How can we, as credit unions, make sure no one is left behind in the mobile revolution?
Maybe we can use this research and work with members and offer a basic tutorial on how to access their accounts and other key phone functions. Perhaps tellers could help members on a case-by-case basis or classes could be offered on occasion?As financial cooperatives we have the ability to shine while helping our members understand new technologies. Has anyone done outreach on how to make members more comfortable with technology? We’d love to hear your ideas!