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Shout Out to My Ladies: International Women’s Day 2018

In honor of International Women’s Day (IWD), I wanted to share some insight on how your credit union can proactively support women. IWD has been observed since the early 1900s, and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating inclusiveness and gender parity, which is important now more than ever.

First – since this is a compliance blog, after all – it is imperative that your credit union keeps the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) top of mind. ECOA requires that you meet the borrowing needs of the community as a whole, and avoid discrimination on any prohibited basis in any aspect of a credit transaction. This includes evaluating an applicant based on their sex, or marital/familial status, among other categories. It is important that your credit union has polices in place and that regular training is provided to employees so that they are aware of what is permissible and what may be considered a fair lending violation.

Another way for those in the credit union industry to actively advocate for the advancement of women is to join the Global Women’s Leadership Network (Network). The Network was established in 2009 by the World Council of Credit Unions, and is dedicated to addressing and facilitating greater gender balance among leadership positions. Their program provides credit union women with tangible skills, tools, and resources they need to lead, and offers actionable steps for organizations to follow. The Network is inclusive and open to all credit union women AND men, regardless of their professional station. I plan to attend their Women’s Leadership Summit this Spring, and I’m excited to meet some other women in our local Sister Society.

Here are some examples of other tangible ways YOU can #PressforProgress and help accelerate gender parity, from the IWD website:

  • Maintain a gender parity mindset
    • Question any lack of women’s participation
    • Identify alternatives that are more inclusive
    • Nominate women for opportunities
    • Always include and support women
    • Think “50/50” as the goal
  • Challenge stereotypes and bias
    • Question assumptions about women
    • Challenge statements that limit women
    • Always use inclusive language
    • Work to remove barriers to women’s progress
    • Buy from retailers who position women in positive ways
  • Forge positive visibility of women
    • Identify ways to make women more visible
    • Extend opportunities to women first
    • Assume women want opportunities until declined
    • Select women as spokespeople and leaders
    • Support visible women
  • Influence others’ beliefs/actions
    • Supportively call-out inappropriate behavior
    • Campaign for equality in meaningful ways
    • Lead by example via inclusive actions
    • Be a role model for equality
    • Actively contribute to changing the status quo
  • Celebrate women’s achievements
    • Believe achievement comes in many forms
    • Value women’s individual and collective success
    • Ensure credit is given for women’s contributions
    • Celebrate women role models and their journeys
    • Support awards showcasing women’s success

Thank you to all the women in our industry who have paved the way, and who continue to forge new paths for others. Let’s build on their momentum, and find more ways that we can support and celebrate each other on a regular basis.

“The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” – Gloria Steinem

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