SALT LAKE CITY – Arrogant. Goldenwest President/CEO Shelley Clarke needed only one word to describe her impression of the attitude conveyed by Howard Headlee, president, Utah Bankers Association in his remark quoted in an article that ran in the Aug. 12 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune on women holding top jobs at credit unions. According to “Women’s Work – Holding Top Jobs at Credit Unions,” 62 of Utah’s 134 credit unions, or 46%, are led by women CEOs, “many of whom began their careers in entry-level positions and lack formal business education,” the article states. In comparison, the article noted that none of the three-dozen banking companies operating in Utah have women CEOs, “although women do hold numerous high-level positions within those organizations,” the article reads. Headlee defended this statistic. “Diversity is a priority for banks as it is with credit unions. But too few women meet the stringent qualifications boards of directors and banking regulators demand in top-level banking executives at publicly held companies,” Headlee said. Clarke was one of three women CU CEOs who were interviewed for the article by Lesley Mitchell of the Salt Lake Tribune. Also interviewed were Irene Himelberger, president/CEO, Beehive CU in Salt Lake City, and Muriel Blake, president/CEO, Southern Utah FCU, St. George. All three women worked their way up from entry-level positions to their current responsibilities as president/CEO of their respective credit unions. “For Mr. Headlee to question the safety and soundness of Utah’s credit unions when they are some of the safest financials in the state is pure arrogance,” said Clarke. “We’re regulated just as banks are, and we are required to follow the same stringent guidelines as banks are. “The real reason why so many more credit unions have women CEOs than banks is because credit unions are very diversified and forward thinking,” Clarke said. Ed Leary, Commissioner of the Utah Department of Financial Institutions offered his own explanation of why there are more women CEOs at credit unions in the state: “Credit unions are regulated by state and federal agencies as are banks. But as private nonprofit cooperatives, they have more leeway when hiring top executives, which may explain why they would have greater numbers of women CEOs,” Leary said. Clarke called Leary’s comments “absurd.” Blake had her own theory on why there are more women CEOs working at credit unions than there are at banks – credit unions typically pay their presidents/CEOs lower salaries than banks do. I think you see a lot of women executives in credit unions because women have been willing to work for less pay, said Blake. Clarke stressed that Goldenwest has no specific diversity program or set goals for hiring women. She explained that Goldenwest’s objective when hiring is “to recruit the best talent we can get, whether that person be male or female,” said Clarke. According to CUNA’s 2001/02 Environmental Scan, credit unions have a higher percentage of female employees than banks, for all position categories (officials/managers, professionals, and clerical.) At the top level, 59% of credit union CEO/managers are female, according to Credit Union Magazine’s 2000 Complete Staff Salary Survey Report. Credit union CEO/managers are mostly female until a CU reaches $20 million in assets. Then the split is 50/50. In credit unions over $50 million in assets, most CEO/managers are male. – [email protected]

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