Home' Connexus : Issue 45 Contents Laying a path
Creating board associate positions can
help prepare potential new directors.
BY CAROLYN RANCE
A strategic approach to renewal has
helped Horizon Credit Union build a
board characterised by gender balance
and an effective mix of fnancial skills.
The Wollongong-based credit union
last year reported improved growth in
proftability, assets, deposits, loans and
capital adequacy despite the compression
of interest margins due to cash rate
easing by the Reser ve Bank.
It won Money magazine’s 2013
Personal Lender of the Year award for
the second successive year and the
Shoalhaven Business Excellence award in
the property and fnance category.
Horizon is one of very few customer-
owned banking institutions where female
board members outnumber males. Four
of its seven directors are women.
Chair Joanne Hinge says much of the
credit for allowing women to shine must
go to long-ser ving director Irene Bonella,
who was for many years the only woman
on the board.
Her efforts to persuade Hinge to
become an associate set the tone for the
way Horizon now recruits applicants for
directorships and ensures the board has
the range of expertise needed to guide
a smaller institution through changing
economic and technological times.
Bonella understood that busy women
may be daunted by the amount of reading
and time involved in being a director.
She suggested the board offer Hinge a
position as a non-voting board associate
to experience the reality of directorship
before standing for election.
It is an approach the board has
continued to use to boost female
representation. It’s also a way of
ensuring skills are replaced as
experienced directors retire. For
example, Mark Crowther and Michael
Gleeson, who were elected to the board
last year, spent time as board associates
after responding to an email campaign
to encourage members with specialist
fnance skills to express interest in
serving as directors
Hinge’s involvement in the customer-
owned banking sector began with both
front and back-offce roles with the
former AIS (later City Coast) credit union
in Port Kembla.
"Being a board associate at Horizon for
six months gave me an understanding of
the volume of work involved and let the
elected by the members as a director in
2009,” says Hinge.
She combines her boardroom duties
with her job as national training manager
at the Australian College of Commerce
Hinge describes directorship as
time-consuming and "not something you
should do half-heartedly".
Her motivation comes from a belief
in the role customer-owned banking
organisations play as an alternative to
mainstream banks, and a desire to show
Horizon’s largely female workforce that
women can go as far as they want to.
Carolyn Rance is a freelance writer.
amount of time they will need for regular
board duties, but to also allow for the
extra work involved during transitions or
when unexpected problems occur.
Targets for traction
While O’Donnell stresses that Beyond
Bank’s directors have all been appointed
on merit, she says there can be no excuse
that insuffcient qualifed women are
available to join the boards of customer-
owned banking institutions.
"There should be no rest on this
issue until 50 per cent of directors are
women,” she says. “Personally, I’d be
in favour of targets to really get some
traction. The government has diversity
targets for its boards and it has done
very well in reaching them.
"There are a lot of good women at
senior levels in organisations and on the
boards of not-for-profts. Mutuals and
companies seeking women for boards
should have no diffculty fnding them.
"It is important for productivity and
good governance to have diversity
on boards. Lack of diversity leads to
cosiness and very narrow thinking.
Boards need a range of thinking and
questioning. In my experience, women
who make it onto boards are highly
qualifed, experienced individuals who
are not afraid to ask the hard questions,"
Carolyn Rance is a freelance writer.
There is a
the diversity dividend is to
Ruth Medd, Chair, Women on Boards
Links Archive Issue 44 Issue 46 Navigation Previous Page Next Page