Did you know that more than half of credit union CEOS are women? That’s more than 15 times higher than the rate of women CEOs at banks, and more than six times higher than that of fortune 500 companies. And at 33%, the ratio of women board members at credit unions is about double that of industry averages.
This should come as no surprise, as credit unions have long upheld the belief of supporting others, including traditionally disenfranchised groups.
One of the most known names in the credit union movement, Louise McCarren Herring was only 23 years old when she started organizing credit unions. While working at Cincinnati-based grocery store chain Kroger Company in the early 1930s, Herring saw firsthand the debilitating effects debt and outrageously high interest rates had on people, and decided to pursue a career helping provide fair access to financial services. She went on to become the first managing director of the Ohio Credit Union League. In that role, she traveled all over Ohio to help people start their own credit unions, eventually helping create more than 500!
Around the same time that Herring was spreading the credit union difference in Ohio, fellow credit union champion Dora Maxwell was securing charters for hundreds of credit unions throughout the U.S. In 1932, she was a delegate to the 1934 Estes Park conference, which established CUNA (the Credit Union National Association) and worked as an organizer for the movement’s trade organization, CUNEB (the Credit Union National Extension Bureau). Maxwell helped build the CUNA-affiliated Massachusetts League and expand the leagues in New York and New Jersey, and in 1954, led a nationwide radio and magazine campaign for CUNA Mutual.
Today, she is the namesake of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award, as well as the inspiration for Dora Financial, an all-digital banking experience designed for underserved and underbanked populations, of which Service Credit Union is proud to be a founding member.
While there have been and continue to be countless amazing female leaders in the credit union world, there is still much progress to be made. According to the Filene Research Institute, female CEOs tend to be found at smaller credit unions, and women in the credit union industry are more likely to start out in lower-level posts and less likely to achieve executive-level status.
In 2009, the World Council of Credit Unions established the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) in 2009 to tackle the industry’s gender gap, give women the resources they need to build their careers, and leverage resources to strengthen the economic security of women and their families.
At Service Credit Union, we are proud to say that 61% of our team of managers, AVPs and executives are women.
“Credit unions offer great opportunities for women, especially for women who are looking for a better work/life balance. For such a long time, women have struggled with the battle between career and family obligations. Credit unions believe strongly in being socially conscious, and part of that means putting our employees first and allowing them to have that balance, while pursuing their passions in a meaningful career,” said May Hatem, Vice President of Human Resources and Training at Service CU.
We are excited to see the future of women leadership in the credit union world, and all industries. Happy Women’s History Month!