Gender Parity In The Credit Union Industry

As calls for gender parity grow louder, the credit union industry has already made large strides.

In early July, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) sat down with Adama Iwu, Visa’s senior director of global government relations, for a difficult but important conversation.

Speier, one of the 150 Fearless Women in the world according to Newsweek, and Iwu, a 2017 TIME Person of the Year, talked at an event held during Visa’s DC Innovation Center pop-up about what it’s like to be a woman in leadership and the role of diversity and inclusion across all sectors of business.

Both leaders have spent a large portion of their careers advocating for women’s rights in corporate America and in the U.S. government. For example, in November 2017, Speier sponsored the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act, or the ME TOO Congress Act,to reform the procedures for investigating and resolving sexual harassment allegations, among other protections. ContentMiddleAd

That’s one problem being addressed within Congress. Elsewhere, according to a study conducted by the National Women’s Law Center, a woman makes $430,480 less than a male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career. In other words, the average woman will need to work 51 years to make what an average man earns in 40 years. The gender pay gap is present across all occupations, but it is largest within the legal, tech, and business fields (see chart below).

In some occupations, the difference in median earning between a man and a woman is only a few thousand dollars. In the legal field, the gap can be as wide as $57,000 a year. Source: 2016 U.S. Census American Consumer Survey.

*Assumptions made on gender through cultural association with first name. If you see a name incorrectly categorized, please contact Callahan & Associates.

Comparatively, the credit union industry has a nearly even distribution of male and female CEOs, with more female CEOs than male*. When CreditUnions.com ran the numbers in Put Your Data Where Your Mouth Is in September 2017, 51.4% of credit union CEOs were female. Nearly a year later, that percentage has increased to 52.1%.

But female leadership at credit unions is evident outside the corner office, too. In 2015, Colleen Browne became the chair of the board of CommunityAmerica Credit Union. She joined CEO Lisa Ginter at the highest levels of leadership at the Midwest cooperative.

Among Fortune 500 companies, the representation of women doesn’t fare as well. As of June 2018, 24 Fortune 500 CEOs or 4.8% were women.;For every male Fortune 500 CEO, there were 0.05 female CEOs. This number has decreased 25% over the past year and doesn’t look as if it will rebound soon.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi announced this summer that she is stepping down after 12 years as CEO, and 24 years at the company. She’ll be handing the reigns over to her male colleague, Ramon Laguarta. Nooyi’s departure comes after several high-profile female CEOs including Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Irene Rosenfeld at Modelez, and Meg Whitman at Hewlett Packard announced they were stepping down. Their successors will all be men.

In terms of financial institution and company size, women manage 19.7% of total assets within the credit unin industry, whereas women leading Fortune 500 companies represent 6.3% of total revenue. Using the chart below, compare and contrast the credit union industry with Fortune 500 companies.

How to use the Tableau Viz:

  • Select whether you want to look at the credit union industry or Fortune 500 companies by clicking at the top.
  • In the bubble chart, hover over the names to see how many CEOs have that name, and the combined total asset/revenue size of the institution.

The credit union industry has a pretty even distribution of male and female CEOs, but in terms of total assets, there is still progress to be made.

But gender representation isn’t just a cultural strategy, it pays dividends, too.

According to a study on the S&P Composite 1500,companies with high numbers of women overall perform better in strategic planning and problem solving, and companies with a high number of women in management exhibit higher levels of innovation. A report from the Peterson Institute found that a company’s net profits could increase by as much as 6% from having a board of directors composed of at least 30% women. And according to The Lehman Sisters Hypothesis, published in 2014 by The Cambridge Journal of Economics, gender differences played a role in the behavioral drivers behind the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

The study focused on gender differences along three dimensions of financial behavior:

  • Risk aversion and response to uncertainty: Women faced with increasing levels of risk, tend to perform better than men because they take lower risks or take more time to respond to increasing uncertainty than men do.
  • Ethics and moral attitudes: Women’s strategies are more dependent on the context they find themselves in than men’s strategies, suggesting that women’s reasoning in complex situation is more contextual than men’s.
  • Leadership: Gender stereotypes about female managers’ capacities are stronger than the actual rating of female managers’ characteristics and performance.

According to the study, increasing gender diversity in company management will reduce some of the behavioral drivers that underpinned the financial crisis.

The issue of gender inequality in the workplace is not new, so why is change slow? It isn’t necessarily that businesses don’t want to solve gender inequality.

According to a recent Ernst & Young report, there are four disconnects holding back gender parity:

  • Reality disconnect: People assume that the problem is solved, or at least almost solved.
  • Data disconnect: Companies do not measure their progress to gender parity.
  • Pipeline disconnect: There are not enough pipelines for future female leaders.
  • Perception and perspective disconnect: Males and females view the problem of gender parity differently.

As gender inequality come to the forefront of companies nationwide, credit unions have made strides in achieving parity within their own ranks, but there’s still room to grow. Read here to learn more about that.

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August 13, 2018

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