Aug 28 2008

A Seat at the Table: Young Adult Directors and Board Advisors

Report  
Number  
169

This brief proposes an audacious step: recruiting a talented young adult to serve as either an advisory volunteer or a full director.

Ben Rogers
Managing Director, Research
Report Number 169

Executive Summary

Credit union volunteers, particularly board members, are overwhelmingly older than 50. A recent Filene Research Institute study shows that 75% are pass the half-century mark, while 25% are 49 or younger and only 6% are 39 or younger. Attracting younger members and younger employees are proximate credit union goals. Attracting younger volunteers is a more ambitious and potentially more impactful strategy.

What is the research about?

Age discrimination is not the aim of this brief. Instead, credit unions whose boards have identified “building a younger membership” or some similar goal are well-served when they invite perspective from a younger cohort. They are even better served when that perspective entails a permanent voice and vote during strategic conversations. Boards can invite young adult perspective in a number of ways, including presentations from consultants, research from credit union staff, or broader research about the young adult market in general. This brief proposes a more audacious step: recruiting a talented young adult to serve as either an advisory volunteer or a full director.

What are the credit union implications?

An academic study of Fortune 1000 firms has shown that boards that are more diverse (as measured by the inclusion of women and/or minorities) return more value to shareholders. While the corresponding argument for recruiting young adults to credit union boards of directors is imprecise, those findings do indicate that boards that seek to bring in otherwise qualified outsiders can expect to build long-term value.

This report is sponsored by PSCU Financial Services, the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), Fiserv, and the Corporate Credit Union Network.