Good Governance: More listening, less mansplaining

In the boardroom and everywhere, it’s important to hear all voices.

I was recently facilitating a retreat for one of our credit union clients when one of the board members—a male board member—started going toe-to-toe with me on the subject of good governance. Really? I thought to myself. Okay, let’s go.

I’ve been a professional in the national not-for-profit sector, focusing on governance, strategy and C-suite management issues, for almost 30 years. And I’ve been working specifically in the area of credit union governance for almost a decade. I’ve probably interviewed more credit union board members than, well, most everyone, and I’m an author of The State of Credit Union Governance studies published by CUES and Quantum Governance. I help assess and review governance data from 50 or 60 credit unions every year … every year.

Now, I’m not trying to boast. But I am saying that I know my way around a discussion on credit union governance. Apparently, however, my male client knew more.

The term mansplaining is relatively new—it first appeared in a Los Angeles Times piece in 2008—but the concept, of course, is not. The phenomenon of mansplaining is so common that it even now appears in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and is officially defined as “when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”


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