NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The biggest takeaway from NAFCU’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit held during its annual conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort was that there are no limits.
“Don’t see the limits. The only limits that exist are the ones we choose to see. Go for it,” said Juli Anne Callis, president/CEO of NIH Federal Credit Union and the latest to be added to the Credit Union Times Women to Watch top 10 list.
SLIDE SHOW: Check out this slide show from the Women's Leadership Summit.
While the number of executives across all federal credit unions favors women, according to the 2012 NAFCU/Burns-Fazzi, Brock survey of federal credit union executive benefits and compensation revealed that there’s more behind the numbers.
The big numbers in the top executive spots has been due to their strong representation among the smaller credit unions, which make up the majority of all federal credit unions, 68% have assets under $40 million and 39% have less than $10 million.
The majority of the smallest credit unions have women as their executives especially in the No. 2 and No. 3 executive spots in the organization. In larger credit unions, men appear more likely to hold these positions.
“My goal today is to set the table for discussions because good research generates more questions,” said Jack Clark, principal of Clark and Chase Research, which conducted the research and prepared the report. “When you are looking at credit unions with assets of $75 million and more and look at the talent pool, it tends to favor men as far as available candidates. So what is being done to recruit women graduating from universities or even other fields into the credit union industry?”
As far as compensation, the survey suggested that female top executives earn less than their male counterparts for some asset groups, particularly in the largest credit unions. The average compensation for female top executives was about 18% lower than their male counterparts in credit unions with more than $335 million in assets. In credit unions ranging from $75 million to $335 million in assets, women appear to earn more than their male counterparts. However, these top executive women appear to be comparably educated and are heading up credit unions with a little more in assets on average.
“We grouped the executives in credit unions with similar asset sizes, but as far as compensation, how much of this difference is due to gender, if at all, is still not clear,” said Clark. “There are other factors that potentially influence this discrepancy from differences in educational levels and age between men and women executives in the smaller credit unions. Men appear to have higher levels of education and are older than their female counterparts.”
In comparing men and women in the No. 2 executive spot in credit unions with more than $75 million in assets, men were paid more. Again Clark added that the male executives had higher levels of education and lead credit unions that, on average, are larger.
“Based on the results of the executive survey, any interest in increasing the number of women executives in larger credit unions appears justified, “ said Clark. “However, whether or not there is any inequity in the compensation for men and women federal credit union executives would need to be explored further before coming to any firm conclusion.”
The art of negotiation may also factor into the equitable compensation riddle.
“We as women generally don’t ask,” said Nan Siemer, president of Alexandria. Va.-based career consulting firm Breakers. “I’ve heard women say ‘I’ve been lucky to just have a job’ or ‘If he knows me he should know what I’m worth.’ You must ask. When you go to a store and the clerk puts out his hand for your money is he begging? No. Do your research, negotiate on your worth not your need and be willing to walk away.”
She added that everything is negotiable, and it’s not necessarily about financial reward. It could be an educational opportunity or time.
“Think outside the box and shoot for the stars, let them make you an offer you can’t refuse, then maybe compromise,” said Siemer. “A lot of women feel intimidated by just the word negotiate, but say bargain, that they understand. It’s a game of strategy so don’t show all your cards.”
During her session, attendees had an opportunity to practice their negotiation skills. Siemer had them split into groups of four with a bag filled with just two items and attendees had to negotiate for the items they wanted for themselves. Some groups included the bag in their negotiations and opted to split one item and others upped the stakes by tossing in offers for a stay at their beach house or trading their drink cards to get the items they wanted.