A lot of talk centers on the need to get young adults on credit union boards, yet not a lot of action is taking place. Credit Union Times asked a few Gen Yers what it would take to get them involved.
Could it be as easy as simply letting them know the opportunity exists? Rumford Aquatics CEO/Founder Andrew Hill said he'd like to be asked. The 18-year-old entrepreneur, who currently serves on several national education panels, admitted he doesn't belong to a credit union, but as long as the work the board does is meaningful he'd still participate.
"It would really just take a credit union asking me to partake and maybe some sort of compensation, but as long as it was interesting, I'd do it," said Hill. "I serve on the education panels because it is interesting, a good group of people and we eat great food as well. That'd be what I'd want the board experience to be like."
Denver resident Melissa Dafni, who is a credit union member, has thought about joining the board three times but never acted on it. She said it would help if credit unions made it clear exactly what the board obligations and duties would be. She suggested also having a limited number of spots open for those interested in running for a board position to sit in on a meeting.
"The first time I decided not to run was because I was still in grad school and afraid that my limits were already too stretched," said Dafni. "The other times I haven't because I've heard that being on a board can be a huge time strain, which is a concern. As I have never sat on a board, I also worry that despite my education I may still be under-qualified."
She added that she doesn't even know who is serving on her credit union's board, so it would help if they were more accessible and interacted with the members occasionally.
"I don't know that you truly can have a diverse board that is representative of its members when the simple requirement of several years in business management and finance precludes most people who might be interested and who would bring a fresh perspective," said Dafni.
Human Resources consultant and author David Lewis said the challenge of recruiting younger board members isn't exclusive to credit unions and the key is to emphasize how they can make a difference by serving.
"Gen Y professionals often seek board appointments not for the recognition, but for the altruistic value. To recruit a Gen Y board member, focus on the impact the service will have on their community-not who they will network with or the power they will have-that's the recruiting pitch for a boomer," said Lewis.
He added that as multitaskers, meetings should be retooled to keep Gen Y focused, direct and positive, so forget long, drawn-out meetings.
"Boomers tend to lead by consensus management, and meetings run for hours while they build buy-in to ideas," said Lewis. "We want to be led by collaboration. Just get our input, incorporate as many of our ideas as you can and conclude the meeting. That's the only way to retain our interest." According to Lewis since Gen Y doesn't segregate work from play, they look for work to be a social experience.
"Every meeting doesn't have to be in a boardroom with wood paneling. Why not ask Gen Y to organize a meeting for you-then see how things would run differently?" pondered Lewis. "If you really want them on the board let them know they will have a voice, and their ideas will be used to help create solutions to challenges. Let them know they will work with other bright, positive people. Then actually let them do it."