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Cork credit unions #ChooseToChallenge

Community 2 min read

12 Mar 2021

International Women’s Day takes place each on the 8th of March. Here at the credit union, we have delved into the statistics of gender balance within the Credit Union Movement. We have found that, in the sample used, 45% of Credit Union CEOs reported were female. This compares very well to other organisations -  CSO statistical release, 23 May 2019 – Gender Balance showed “Only one in nine CEOs in large enterprises in Ireland in 2019 were women. Women occupied 28% of Senior Executive roles compared with 72% for men. The vast majority of Chairpersons were male at 93% with 7% being female. The overall composition of Boards of Directors was 80% male and 20% female”.

Our aim for this week is to put faces to those statistics, and we next we headed to Cork where we spoke to Elma Casey, CEO of Access Credit Union, Amanda O’Sullivan, Branch Manager Access Credit Union and Georgie Cantwell, Youth and Marketing Officer, First South Credit Union, about their involvement in the movement, why they think the organisation does so well in terms of gender balance, and their one piece of advice they would give to inspire other women.
Firstly, we asked all three women how they started in the credit union. Both Elma and Georgie started at entry level, working their way up through the ranks. While Amanda had a different path which led her to where she is today.
Elma; “I started working as a teller in the year 2000!”

Georgie: I came to my local Credit Union on work experience five years ago and from there I became employed on a part-time basis working the counter. A couple of years later I started getting interested in Marketing after doing a short course on CUlearn. I started sharing my ideas with management which eventually resulted in me taking on the role of marketing and youth officer”.

While both Georgie and Elma worked their way through the ranks, Amanda worked in a more corporate banking sector and wanted to switch to a community based bank.
Georgie goes on to tell us how supportive the movement is to women, “I am lucky to be working in an organisation that empowers women. My management team, again mostly made up of females, have always supported me in my personal and professional development. Once you learn to stop comparing yourself to the other women around you and appreciate all of your differences, it does make things easier.”
All three women tell us the impact working at the heart of their local community has had on their own outlook.

Elma, Working in the community teaches you to be non-judgemental and reminds you that everyone should be given an equal chance. 

Amanda, “Working in the community makes you more emphatic towards others”

Georgie tells us how her work within the community, helped her hugely to overcome her own struggles: “Working within the Credit Union I continue to see the world differently. Every day you see the hardships that people face, you feel the myriad of emotions that pass through the door and you are inspired by their resilience.
I am an anxious person and I fear the worst, but seeing our Members still standing strong after some of the battles they have fought changes my outlook on the world around me. We can get through anything. In particular, when I was in the process of coming out as an LGBT person, meeting members at the counter who were openly LGBT, unbeknownst to them, helped me a great deal with accepting myself. I began to see the world around me as not such a terrible and unaccepting place after all.”

Finally, we asked all three women, to give us their one piece of advice for women everywhere!
Georgie: You are a woman who matters!

Elma: “Be Brave!”

Amanda: Follow your dreams.