Executive Readiness Summit acts to solve female pipeline problem

World Council’s Global Women’s Leadership Network hosts inaugural summit atop the Aon Center

MADISON, WI (November 21, 2017) — The World Council of Credit Unions’ Global Women’s Leadership Network held its first annual Executive Readiness Summit Nov. 13-15, 2017, intent on cultivating more women for leadership positions within credit unions.

“In 2015, we concluded research with Filene Research Institute to understand what was precluding women from summiting the C-suite. One of the challenges we found is the pipeline problem,” Calyn Ostrowski, Worldwide Foundation Executive Director, explained in her opening remarks. “Women often start working for credit unions in lower-level roles and departments that do not lead directly to the executive suite. Simultaneously, conversations with credit union recruiters and HR directors noted the difficulty of identifying women to join the pipeline for open C-suite positions.” Thus, the Executive Readiness Summit was born.

Why does this matter? “Women control 80 percent of the global wallet,” Ingrid Vanderveldt, CEO of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020, said during her presentation at the Summit, but 91 percent of women feel advertisers don’t understand them. That kind of disconnect can break a business and more women in C-suite positions can help fill that gap.

SuiteTrack Managing Partner Erin Wolf, the facilitator of the two-day Summit, believes the unwritten rules of business may be holding women back from the C-suite. While 70 percent of smaller credit unions may be run by women, only 14 percent of the billion-dollar credit unions are led by a female CEO,” she said.

Eventually women may be able to change some of the rules, but, “Before you disrupt the rules, you have to know there’s a game going on,” Wolf quipped of her 10 Unwritten Rules. Rules like always raise your hand to get picked for a team and if you’re 20 percent ready, you’re 100 percent ready. Wolf explained further that women often make sure they have all the skills necessary before moving into a higher position, whereas men are entirely confident at 20 percent readiness.

Attendees of first annual Executive Readiness Summit

Summit attendees pose questions during sessions


About World Council of Credit Unions

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach. World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 90 countries. Worldwide, 87,914 credit unions in 118 countries serve 393 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at


Greg Neumann
WOCCU Director of Communications

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