Global Women’s Leadership Network focuses on ‘Women – You’ve Got the Power’ at Virtual World Credit Union Conference

MADISON, WI (July 20, 2021) — The Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) Forum at the 2021 Virtual World Credit Union Conference featured three sessions promoting its “SheforShe” initiative—a continuing effort to encourage leaders to become active in promoting women to leadership roles in the credit union industry.

Darcie Murray, Senior Managing Partner with Allen Austin, led an international women’s leadership panel discussion on the “three A’s to narrow inequality gaps for women—accomplice, ally, advocate.” The discussion featured the business case for the economic empowerment of women and took a closer look at the challenges and obstacles women have experienced in terms of promotions, growth and advancement.

“I’ve often found, in many parts of the world, that we, women, are our own worst enemies due to our own lack of self-confidence or due to other women keeping each other down due to a lack of seats at the table,” said Murray.

Data presented by Murray showed that a lack of self-confidence and demands of family responsibilities were the top two obstacles preventing women from going after leadership positions in the financial services industry.

“The good news is, as more and more women are educated (on this subject), there is less reticence to negotiate on the part of themselves, so, I’m so thrilled they’ve been raised to stand up for themselves,” said Teresa Freeborn, GWLN Volunteer Chair and President of Kinecta Credit Union. “It’s baby steps, but I feel it’s coming, so, it’s assuring to me for sure.”

You’ve Got the Power

A second diverse panel of leaders shared their insights and beliefs on what the credit union industry has to do to ensure women take their rightful place in the leadership ranks.

“I think, often times, some of our structures are antiquated,” said Marsha Major, President and CEO of U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union. “What I mean by that is, we have to consciously create more opportunities for what they have to offer—the value of what women can bring to an organization.”

“People who work in our industry, more than 70% are women. So why can’t we carry that forward to say – ‘why can’t 70% of our managers be women?,'” asked Teresa Freeborn. “What’s important now is to start thinking about those strategies. Men need to be at the table. They need to help us and they need to be emotional about it.”

Leadership empathy

Keri Schwebius, Founder and President of Ellevate Executive Coaching, conducted the GWLN Forum session—”Strengthen Your Leadership Empathy Muscle.”

Studies show that high-performing leaders tend to have higher emotional intelligence (EQ) than their peers. Schwebius delved into how organizations can help their leaders excel in EQ by talking about using empathy, the art of listening and other factors in the process of making intelligent decisions for credit unions.

“When people feel disconnected, they feel less motivated, they are less willing to share information with each other,” said Schwebius. “People with high EQ are more likely to have increased performance in effectiveness, relationships, wellbeing and overall quality of life. When you are empathetic and you really care about the people you’re leading, you’ll want to share constructive feedback, you’ll want to see them succeed.”

2021 GWLN Scholarship recipients recognized

Recipients of the 2021 GWLN Scholarship were on hand for the GWLN Forum and were also recognized at a celebration event afterwards. Each year, GWLN awards scholarships to female leaders within the credit union industry so they may acquire new skills, tools and resources to make an impact and further their professional development.

The scholars received:

  • A complimentary registration to the 2021 World Credit Union Conference (WCUC).
  • A complimentary one-year membership to the Global Women’s Leadership Network.
  • A complimentary registration to the 2021 Virtual Executive Readiness Summit (October 27-29).

GWLN strategic partners CO-OP Financial ServicesCUNA Mutual Group and PSCU sponsored the day’s sessions.

Still to come

Tuesday at WCUC 2021 will feature presentations of the 2021 WYCUP Scholarships, which will send select young credit union professionals on all-expense paid trips to the 2022 World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Follow daily conference activities and events on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with #WCUC2021.

The 2021 Virtual World Credit Union Conference runs through Wednesday, July 21.

Accomplice, Ally, Advocate panel

You’ve Got the Power panel

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, 82,758 credit unions in 97 countries serve 404 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at


Kadie Hochmuth
+1 (608) 395-2071

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