3 business reasons for advancing women

When CUES was considering starting up a digital publication focused on advancing female credit union leaders, our magazine team reached out to industry women who currently lead and who aspire to leadership roles. The positive support for the recent launch of our new quarterly online magazine, Advancing Women, was overwhelming.

But that’s soft data. While I certainly think supporting diversity is the right thing to do, I’m also a business guy who wants to know that every effort my organization makes also serves our mission, our members and our bottom line. I’m sure you do, too.

So, from a business perspective, why should your credit union support the advancement of women leaders? (And why should you read Advancing Women?) Here are three answers to those questions:

  • Diversity of thought improves decision-making. Sometimes leaders give lip service to the idea of trying to look at as many sides of an issue as possible before making a decision. Having a more diverse team in the executive conference room—and the board room—will support having people with more varied experiences and perspectives weigh in. Research supports this.
  • Diversity improves business outcomes. For example, in a  study by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were found to be 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Conversely, companies in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race were statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set. That is, bottom-quartile companies were lagging rather than merely not leading.
  • Widening your hiring pool can help you overcome the widespread talent pipeline problem. A large number of credit union CEOs, both male and female, are slated to retire within the next five years. Your succession planning efforts will benefit from efforts made now to develop a strong pipeline of female and other leaders who are ready to move into those open CEO roles, as well as backfill other leadership positions.


When it comes to the credit union industry, some progress has been made on advancing women into leadership roles—but not enough. Women are still under-represented in senior leadership positions within the industry, and the disparity becomes especially apparent when you look at credit union asset size.

In our CU Management magazine article, “By the Numbers: Women as CU CEOs,” David Hilton, CEO of CUES Supplier member D. Hilton Associates, Woodlands, Texas, underscores this idea. “Out of the 235 credit unions with assets of $1 billion-plus, 33 have female CEOs–14 percent,” he says.

When it comes to IT leadership, the inequalities are even greater. We take a look at “Cracking the Silicon Ceiling” (and more) in the first issue of Advancing Women. Please check it out, as well as McKinsey’s suggestions on how organizations can promote diversity (see p. 14). Then, let me know what you think of our new publication—and what benefits you experience from advancing women and minorities at your credit union. I look forward to hearing from you.

John Pembroke

John Pembroke

As president/CEO of CUES, John Pembroke came full circle in his career. His first exposure to business was a high school internship working in his father’s church credit ... Web: www.cues.org Details