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Dublin CEOs #ChooseToChallenge

Community 3 min read

09 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, see below: CSO statistical release, 23 May 2019 – Gender Balance

“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 kick off this campaign in Dublin, where we spoke to Bridget Hynes, CEO of Ballyfermot Inchicore Credit Union, and Sinéad Rooney CEO of Ballygall 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.
 
Stories have to start somewhere and both Bridget and Sinéad nod to their families for the beginning of theirs.  

Bridget tells us how her mother inspired her credit union story to begin, “I began volunteering in 1991, I was 17. The Credit Union by then had played a big part in our lives as a family. All life events centred around the Credit Union, births, deaths and marriages! My Mam was a volunteer for a number of years in Ballyfermot Credit Union and saw that she was making a difference in her community so I followed in her footsteps. When the Credit Union went computerised in 1992 I was asked to work part time and the rest is history”.

Sinéad notes how her family also inspired her to become part of the credit union story, I got involved in the credit union when I was 16 years of age, my Father volunteered my services to our local CU in Tara, Co. Meath. I became Treasurer of that CU when I was 21. I have been involved for 38 years at various different levels, voluntary on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for the first 15 years and then it became my career. There were great opportunities afforded to me as a Volunteer Director for gaining Credit Union qualifications and massive experience. At that time I was at home with young children and it was great to have that interest albeit voluntary but it certainly paid off in the long term and I am very appreciative of all the support that was given to me back then. When I decided to go back to work around 2002 the qualifications and experience I had gained opened doors for me and led me to where I am today as CEO of Ballygall Credit Union, since 2009”.  
 
From the beginning, both Bridget and Sinéad explain the challenges they have overcome to get to where they are today. Bridget tells us the barriers she faced in her growth through the movement.
“We are lucky in that the Credit Union movement was full of inspirational women over the years. I had very strong women role models when I began my career but struggled to find women in higher managerial roles to aspire to. The women I met were usually office supervisors or administrators, very rarely in a CEO role. Although Boards at the time had several women members the principal roles were often carried out by men.  I suppose just the stereotype of a women’s ability to reach certain levels of a career considering family commitments and their roles within a family unit was a barrier that was always in the back of my mind. I also felt peers might misinterpret my compassion as a weakness, this was and still is difficult to combat”.
 
Making a difference to their members lives is top of the agenda for both Bridget and Sinéad. They tell us why working in the credit union movement is so special to them.

Bridget; “We make a difference to people’s lives every day. Some big differences, some small, but to know that we’re an important part of our community makes it special...”

Sinéad;The Credit Union is member owned. We are not working to make profits to pay dividends to wealthy shareholders like the banks are. Our surpluses go back to our members and into the local communities that we serve. I like to feel that we make a difference to our member’s lives”.
 
Running an organisation at the heart of the community for CEO’s across the country is no mean feat, but both Dublin CEO’s tell us how working in the community has had an impact on their lives.
 
Bridget; “My work within the community has had such an impact on my life. Not only can the work we do can have a huge impact on individual members, the impact locally on businesses and communities is wide reaching. We are local employers, support local schools, clubs and societies. Through the work of the ILCU foundation globally and the International Credit Union movement in other countries we see how the Credit Union movement makes a difference worldwide.”

Finally, we asked Bridget and Sinéad for the one message they’d send out to women everywhere to inspire them.

Bridget, “Trust in yourself. Don’t let fear or anxiety stop you from reaching your full potential!”

Sinéad, Don’t stop doing something until you are proud of what you have achieved”.
 
Interested? Why not become part of the story! Join us today as a member or volunteer, and know you’ll be part of the fabric of your local community, and a movement who celebrates gender diversity and inclusion!