Study shows more than half of British credit unions led by women

Women were found to hold CEO positions in 60% of British credit unions, compared with 12% in the wider finance sector

New research from the Association of British Credit Unions (Abcul) has revealed that women hold top positions in more than half of British credit unions.

Of those surveyed, 40 credit unions gave the gender of their CEO or most senior staff member, of which 60% were female.

The findings show a higher concentration of women in CEO (or equivalent) positions in credit unions than in the finance sector as a whole. According to data gathered by New Finance in May this year, women made up just 12% of CEO positions across 200 financial institutions surveyed.

A total of 44 credit unions gave data to Abcul’s survey, which also looked at gender representation in board rooms and membership, as well as figures on different age groups in credit unions.

Looking at board membership, the credit unions surveyed reported greater male representation, with 62% of board roles held by men. This compares with 68% of board roles held by men in the wider finance sector.

Women’s Leadership Network chair Beth Welsh responded to the findings, saying: “It is inspiring to see credit unions leading the way with gender parity; there are so many barriers to career advancement which shouldn’t exist and GWLN aims to empower and inspire women of today and tomorrow to continue to break those barriers and thrive within the credit union sector.”

Abcul president and CEO of Enterprise Credit Union Karen Bennett said: “Working in the credit union industry has allowed me to meet many fantastic people, and we’re approaching an exciting time as a collective, in no small part down to the work of our women.

“If you look at some of the brilliant credit unions up and down the country, you’ll see female leaders throughout, providing the stewardship and innovation that is so crucial to our collective success.”

Looking at credit union membership, the gender split was found to be 53% female, 46% male and 1% other. Age was also looked at in the study, with the average age of credit unions members reported as 44.