I knew from the beginning that First Source FCU was different. After all, they accepted an application to run for the board of directors from a 28-year-old. I was honored that they would consider my application because I knew most organizations would not do so, simply due to my age. In today's fast-moving environment, unfortunately many people are still being judged by their age and not their experience and qualifications.
During my first year on the board I attended a credit union conference where a board member from another credit union had assumed my husband was the board member because he was male. The following year I attended a conference where one of the presenters asked an interesting question to a room of at least 75 people. Her question: "Would anyone consider having a Gen Y person on your board?" I did not see one person in the room raise their hand. Not even consider!? I began to wonder if anyone in this room had heard of Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. Both individuals were in their early twenties when they started their incredibly successful companies. Would they not have made good board members in their Gen Y years?
There is a lot of discussion at credit union conferences about the importance of attracting young members. What better way to understand the needs and wants of younger members than to diversify your board of directors by recruiting someone from Gen Y? The benefits can be immense!
Gen Y has a lot to offer to a board of directors. They are typically well-educated, challenge the status quo, ask "why?", they understand how to manage their work and life balance, encourage efficiencies, and tend to be tech-savvy. These are all great attributes for future board members.
What is your credit union doing to ensure the individuals overseeing the strategic direction of your credit union keep your credit union not only competitive but also viable? Do you have term limits? How do you recruit younger board members? Does your board composition reflect the demographics of your membership?
The fact is that we are doing a disservice to our members by not having a board that represents the demographic makeup of our membership. We owe it to our members to ensure that a representative voice is guiding and leading their credit union into the future.
Pamela Goodison-Bick, Board Member
First Source FCU, New Hartford, N.Y.