WASHINGTON (3/4/16)--Credit unions can help women and minorities in a number of ways, National Credit Union Administration board member J. Mark McWatters said last week. McWatters, speaking at the Global Women’s Leadership Network breakfast, highlighted the role credit unions play in connecting populations with financial services, as well how they can better provide employment and board membership opportunities to those same populations.
“Women often lose access to financial services because they have insufficient collateral, they live too far from financial services providers, they cannot utilize digital or other payments services, or they are restricted in travel or from obtaining services by their families or cultures,” McWatters said.
“In this country, for example, there are several ways that credit unions may help women meet their financial services needs, including providing financial literacy programs, facilitating access to credit for personal and business purposes, and providing competitive savings programs,” he added.
McWatters cited the agency’s recently finalized member business lending proposal as an example of a recent action taken by the agency to enable more member business lending, including to women and minorities.
“While women who own and operate small businesses are not the only target of the rule, they can be among those who will benefit as the final rule eliminates regulatory requirements regarding loan-to-value ratios, obtaining the personal guarantee of the borrower, unsecured loan limits and other restrictions, without presenting a safety and soundness threat to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund,” McWatters said.
The Global Women’s Leadership Network works for women, in partnership with individuals, nongovernment organizations and corporations, to create an environment conducive to broad participation for major social change around the world.
During his remarks, McWatters cited a study from the network and the Filene Research Institute that examined workforce issues faced by women, including at credit unions. The study found that credit unions in the United States have a higher percentage of female CEOs than other institutions, but that most women leaders serve at credit unions smaller than $50 million in assets.
“There is no question that at many credit unions women are making great strides and are encouraged to lead and contribute to the credit union’s success to their full capacity,” McWatters said. "Yet workforce diversity, including opportunities for leadership and advancement, remains an important issue for our society and economy, as well as for the individuals who seek to advance, contribute more, and lead.”