According to “Women in Leadership: Obstacles and Opportunities,” a report from the Filene Research Institute, 53 percent of all credit union CEOs are female and 70 percent of CU employees in the U.S. are women – numbers that far exceed other industries in terms of female representation. While women make up the overwhelmingly majority of Credit Union employees, they mostly only lead smaller institutions.
This industry has opportunities to increase the number of Women in Leadership roles and take advantage of the many qualities that women are bringing to the table; qualities that will increase the bottom line of CU’s. Here are a few examples:
Just the Facts-If you’re not familiar with the power of the purse, here are some numbers to think about. Women control an estimated $14 trillion in assets, representing more than 50% of all private wealth. They influence 85% of all purchasing decisions and launch 70% of all new businesses at a rate of 2 times more than men. Nearly 60% of all college graduates are female and 57% of graduate degrees are earned by women. Single women account for 17% of homebuyers in the U.S., vs. 7% of single men. There are more women with experience, finances and knowledge that they are willing to share with others in the industry and companies can benefit from having them in leadership positions.
Women Know Women– What’s better than having an inside track on your clients, your employees and your leadership team? Women understand the differences in communication styles, they rally around change and they bring teams together through collaboration. While women know women they also can help the connections between men and women in buying, selling and working together. They aren’t afraid of sharing their knowledge and sometimes it’s through what isn’t said, rather than what is. Take the time to observe and listen.
Long-Term Relationships Are Here-While we talk about the differences between being transactional and relational, let’s take that one step further. The result of being more relational will result in long-term relationships, golden referrals and valuable strategic partners. Women will develop and nurture relationships and that will show up as continuous business in the future. Sometimes the bonds are so deep that you will need a flow chart to see where it all began.
More Than Just a Product-Women tend to look at companies that have more than just a product or service to offer. They want to see how the company gives back to their community or if they have a social cause they believe in. This helps in your customer growth, recruiting efforts, retention and promotions. Women want to be part of something bigger than “just” a position. They want to give back, support and mentor. Did you know that 65% of women that are mentored become mentors? Imagine what that can do for your bottom line.
There are articles after articles and studies after studies that show the benefits of having more women in leadership positions. I recently came across a New York Times article in which Therese Huston reviews studies that answer the question, “Are Women Better Decision Makers?” The studies show that, under stress, there are gender differences, and women tend to perform better. In stressful situations, women typically take smaller, measured risks and are more able to consider another person’s perspective. Men tend to take bigger risks for bigger wins, even when they are more costly and unlikely. She concludes with a study that revealed large-cap companies with at least one woman on their boards significantly outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards.
According to a Credit Suisse Research Institute study, companies with more than 15 percent of women in top management have a higher return on equity than companies with less than 10 percent. Think about your company. Is there room for more women at the top? Invite women in be a part of this level. They bring a different perspective and one that compliments what the men are already successful doing. Learning and sharing is part of what makes us who we are.