a woman leading group of people in a meeting
Industry Engagement

Championing Women’s Leadership: Why Credit Unions Can’t Afford to Wait

By: Merry Pateuk, SVP, Industry Engagement

“People helping people.” It’s a credit union philosophy that defines our industry and promotes our responsibility of community engagement. It’s also a philosophy that should be applied internally to champion the individuals we work with every day.

Currently, there is a great deal of discussion within the credit union industry about one particular sector of workers: women. This is good – but it’s almost always being done by women.

To some, it would seem odd for a man to attend a women’s leadership event. But we should challenge ourselves to consider the far greater implications of men’s absence from women’s empowerment discussions. After all, good leadership is the embodiment of culture. And it’s important to recognize that having more women in leadership roles is about relatability and community reach, not just parity. This is why credit unions cannot afford to wait when it comes to empowering more women to lead. If we consider how the communities we serve are comprised, we should ask ourselves, “Why don’t our credit unions look more like the people we serve?”

Since the April 2019 launch of the African American Credit Union Coalition’s (AACUC) Women’s Power Series, sponsored by PSCU, attendance for each session has grown steadily and interest continues to increase among AACUC members, as well as the credit union community at large. This webinar series is a testament to the power of partnerships. Collaboration and teamwork are fundamental to advancing the credit union movement and empowering employees, members and other players to be part of the change and betterment of the industry.

The next Women’s Power Series webinar, Volunteering Pays Big Personal Dividends, will discuss how volunteering and joining a credit union board can pave a compelling and motivating path to success. The webinar is set for November 6 at 2 pm ET and registration is open now. Participants will hear the journeys of the board chairs of Coastal Credit Union and SRP Federal Credit Union, along with CUNA Mutual Group’s Multicultural Business Strategy Manager, and come away with actionable efforts for their own career development. This is a great opportunity to cultivate and connect with a network of professionals who champion women’s leadership and contribute positively to the evolution of the credit union industry.

In the midst of growing competitive pressures, it’s crucial that credit unions work together to ensure increased participation of women in leadership programs, training and development. We must look our predisposition toward male-dominated leadership in the eye and change our understanding of inclusion.

Merry Pateuk fulfills PSCU’s strategic objective of leveraging the cooperative’s scale to advocate on behalf of the credit union industry. She cultivates relationships between PSCU and local, state and national organizations that support credit unions and works collaboratively with industry partners to ensure there is alignment on key topics and a cohesive voice to ultimately strengthen credit unions’ position in the market.