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Filene offers 4 steps to further women's leadership
MADISON, Wis. (7/8/14)--Women at credit unions with female CEOs feel more effective, that their skills are move valued, and that they are more committed and competent. Those were among the key takeaways at a Women in Leadership Colloquium hosted by the Filene Research Institute and World Council of Credit Unions at the University of Southern California last month.
 
In short, female CEOs change the possibilities for other women in their organizations, according to colloquium participants. On important measures such as ambition, competence and self-perception, women with female CEOs rated higher than those at credit unions led by men.
 
The colloquium offered four first steps to address the gender intelligence challenge:
  • It's essential for women (and men) to differentiate between mentors and sponsors, participants said. Mentors offer advice and encouragement, but sponsors do that and more, by using their own political capital lobbying for your next raise, promotion or new job.
  • Boards and hiring executives should exercise their influence by demanding diverse candidate slates for important positions. The more search firms and human resource departments see diversity consideration as a necessary step, the more they will emphasize it in their own steps.
  • Women in organizations with visible female leaders feel more empowered and are more engaged. Each organization should feel responsible for building a "first generation" of powerful women so that up-and-coming women have role models and potential sponsors.
  • Credit unions should track data about how many women are leading in their organizations. This allows the organization to know whether women leaders are arriving by accident or intentionally. It also helps the organization determine if it is improving.
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