It’s 2019 and FUND Community Institute is back sharing more data from its landmark study, Perception versus Reality: Women and Change in the CDFI Industry (available at www.fundci.org). To kick off the new year on a positive note, we are looking at advantages to being a woman in the CDFI industry.
Survey findings reveal that almost 37% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that there are benefits / advantages to being a woman in the CDFI industry. When asked to describe these advantages, respondents identified several themes:
- There are more opportunities for women in the industry compared to other sectors, perhaps because of strong female role models and leaders.
- The industry overall may be more supportive of a work-life balance.
- Women feel there is strong camaraderie and support among women in the industry.
Sample write-in comments:
- Overall it’s harder to be a woman in the workplace but it’s a little easier in the CDFI space.
- There are strong women mentors.
- CDFIs often (not always) have family friendly benefits.
- Some CDFIs may be proactively looking to recruit women to achieve gender equity. Women may also bring a different and valuable perspective that can lead to innovation, enhance relationship building, and facilitate resource development.
- CDFI cultures generally seem to be more family friendly/ work-life-balance oriented than traditional finance.
- The CDFI industry and the philanthropic industry are both fairly female-dominated compared to other industries. Thus, women may have an easier time connecting with their colleagues/funder contacts than men.
- Strong women leadership in the early days of the CDFI industry provided foundation of representation; I believe this spirit of respect for women leaders is felt in the CDFI industry compared to other industries.
- I believe the CDFI mission in itself is inclusivity. That facilitates the promotion of women.
- Strong networking among peers, women respect other women in the industry.
One interesting finding from this survey question about advantages to being a women in the industry is that some female survey respondents indicated that women had certain skills that aligned well with the CDFI mission and workplace. Many of the comments present perceptions of women such as being approachable and compassionate, or as providing perspectives valued by clients. Others wrote that they felt women have stronger skills in networking and collaboration. These comments indicate that some respondents perceive and celebrate women as having different skills. Sample write-in comments:
- Unique perspective and ability to identify with needs of constituents served.
- Women tend to be more relationship focused and successful CDFI’s must build strong relationships with members and their communities.
- More likely to have talents and experiences that encourage collaboration, foster staff development, and prioritize thoughtful decision making.
- I feel that women are often viewed as more approachable so our customer-base may find it easier to discuss their needs openly with a woman.
- Women blend business and passion for helping the underserved more effectively and authentically because we too remain at a disadvantage in society.
- Women are more socialized to be collaborative rather than competitive, which is a useful and generally valued approach in our industry, compared for example, to traditional banking.
- Many of small business owners are women and women leaders can relate to the struggles they often face.
- Women are perceived as being more compassionate and understanding of those that struggle to raise families and meet financial commitments.
Any comments on these findings? Do they present any insights into women’s roles at CDFIs or how women perceive themselves? Do they bring up any issues?
About the Research
The research was conducted in 2018 and included an online survey and key informant interviews. More detailed information is available in the report (http://www.fundconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/FUNDCI-Perception_vs_Reality.pdf).
FUND Community Institute (FUND CI)
FUND CI was founded in 2017 as part of the family of FUND Consulting organizations. In an effort to support the CDFI Industry, one of the main activities of the organization is to conduct and disseminate research on CDFIs and related topics. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.