Over Half of UC Professional Women Suffer From Gender Bias: GWLN Report

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Fifty-one percent of female credit union employees who are also members of the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) said they experienced gender biases in the workplace and that the main factor preventing them from accessing leadership positions is ” lack of self-confidence, ”according to a new“ pink paper ”from GWLN based primarily on a 2021 survey of GWLN members.

GWLN, an initiative of the charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions, the Global Foundation for Credit Unions, on Monday released “We for She: Advancing Women’s Leadership in Credit Unions,” providing an overview of the barriers to success facing women. women are faced in credit unions. worldwide as well as career development advice for credit unions and professional women in credit unions.

The report, which was developed in conjunction with the CUSO PSCU, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Found that more than 60% of the 202 total respondents cited a “lack of confidence in self-defense” as one of the main reasons. reasons why they are selected. to access leadership positions, followed by “being held to higher standards” (over 40%), “family responsibilities” (around 38%) and “fewer connections and networks” (around 30%) .

“It was amazing to hear similar challenges that women seeking to advance in leadership still face today. We need to act first for ourselves as individuals, then for other women, ”said Lena Giakoumopoulos, GWLN program director and one of the report’s authors, in a press release.

According to a 2019 global statistical report from WOCCU, Europe has the highest average percentage of female credit union CEOs (60%), followed by North America (40%) and Asia (25%). %). The Oceania region has the lowest average percentage of female CEOs of credit unions (16%); however, this region actually reported the highest average percentage of women on credit union boards (45%). Next are Europe, Asia and North America, with average percentages of women on credit union boards of 43%, 36% and 34%, respectively.

When asked about the types of prejudices encountered in the workplace, 51% of respondents said they had experienced gender prejudice and 36% age-related prejudice. Types of bias encountered less often included bias related to pregnancy / maternity (17%), bias related to socioeconomic status (14%), bias related to race / ethnicity (12%) and biases related to sexual orientation (5%).

The report, which was also based on interviews with 20 female GWLN leaders, executives, CEOs and board members around the world, offered recommendations for addressing what it identified as five key issues facing credit union professionals: promoting female leadership, confronting gender prejudices, supporting work / life balance, increasing women’s confidence and self-esteem and combating racial injustice and harassment.

Recommendations for credit unions included:

  • Offer ‘leader connection sessions’ to create networking opportunities between senior executives and management staff that empower women to understand pathways to leadership, and offer growth assignments to help women gain more leadership. skills and experience.
  • Intentionally establishing human resource strategies that specifically prioritize diversity and the advancement of women, and showcasing the accomplishments of women and other diverse leaders in onboarding trainings, annual meetings, and outreach events.
  • Create sessions and services that promote well-being and invest in flexible and remote working arrangements.
  • De-stigmatize mental health and organize self-esteem building activities such as counseling, mindfulness meditation, yoga and martial arts.
  • Build and promote a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, including the promotion of people of diverse backgrounds to leadership positions.

Recommendations for credit union professionals included:

  • Build and use strong professional networks and set up a personal advisor committee to receive feedback and support.
  • Create a personal strategic plan for career growth, define specific steps to achieve goals and regularly assess their performance.
  • Challenging assumptions about gender and leadership that may have been formed early in life, such as that men are more ‘natural’ leaders.
  • Defend first for themselves, then defend other women.
  • Establish and maintain boundaries between work and personal life.
  • Identify stimulating activities outside of work that can result in a return of confidence in the workplace and explore services such as therapy and spiritual counseling.
  • Educate yourself on racism, white privilege and sexual / racial trauma, and make a personal commitment to speak out and take action against injustice.

The full report is available here.

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Joan Ferguson

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