The saying goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Undoubtedly true our female readers will agree and most of the men when they receive the head-cocked, one eyebrow arched, steely-eyed glare from their female colleagues, mothers, sisters or significant others. You know the one.
Studies and experience have irrefutably demonstrated women’s superiority. Don’t believe me? Ask my husband, John. Or Donald Shoultz, our managing editor. Or Marc Rapport, our online editor. Or…you get the picture. Smart male leaders make sure their teams are diverse and part of that mix is women. No one deserves special treatment, but all things being equal, choose the professional and life experience your team is lacking. Dilute the testosterone.
With Credit Union Times’ Women to Watch program, we wanted to highlight and honor the women who throw themselves into supporting and leading credit unions. Our regular program is restricted to credit union employees, but for our Focus Report on pages 17-21 of this issue, we decided to also celebrate women working in organizations supporting the credit union community.
The most recent data show federal credit union CEOs lean toward the female of the species (54% according to the 2012 NAFCU-Burns-Fazzi, Brock survey of federal credit unions), and past studies show that’s in line with the entire industry. However, that ratio dwindles significantly when you look at the higher asset-size credit unions to just 17% women over $750 million according to the NAFCU data. As demographics and history progress, more female executives are growing into these roles, and we wanted to highlight them in various states of their career paths. Particularly when, as you’ll see on page 21, 66% of women 18-34 rate career high on their list of priorities compared to 59% of men.
On the flip side, the women featured in this issue of Credit Union Times or at CUTimes.com/W2W or CUTimes.com/W2WCUSupporters are professionals to be admired and respected for a whole slew of reasons. The business world is short on female mentors, but one of these fantastic females might be right for you, male or female. Just look at their philosophies:
- Be honest.
- Be flexible.
- Be the person you look up to.
- Seek opportunities.
- Be curious and creative.
- Make a difference.
- Do what’s right.
Demonstrating leadership isn’t rocket science and it’s not a women or men’s issue. These are human issues.
Not all women or men want to be in the corner office. Some prefer to be the best they can be at whatever their area of interest is. That’s great. It takes everyone working together—men and women, CFOs, IT and marketing directors, volunteers and professionals—and respecting and using everyone to their strengths while acknowledging our own weaknesses to operate a successful organization.
Willingness to cooperate and collaborate and getting others to work together harmoniously is a great strength of women in general and perhaps why they’ve been more successful in the credit union community than other industries.
As Gen X and Y come into positions of authority, there will be a simultaneous shift in what it means to have it all. It’s not just women who want to keep business hours and travel under control. Men are becoming increasingly concerned about it, too. Men like my husband who chose to work part time and be a stay-at-home dad after his mother played chauffeur and den mother while his father worked 100-hour weeks.
The next generation of leaders, hopefully many more of who will be women, will change that. We’re just as dedicated to our jobs, but the 1980s bred the original latch key kids and many don’t want that for our own children. Work-life balance talk is becoming cliché but it will become increasingly important to the way all businesses run under the next generation’s ethos.
Maybe one day the saying will evolve to behind every great woman is a great man –thanks to the Johns, Dons and Marcs of the world.