I've recently sat through a massive amount of Co-operative "speak"! Through the magic of social media and streaming, I have participated in both the International Co-operative conferences in Quebec and Manchester. I'm up to here in CO-OP awareness! (still far from even approaching expert status)
And after a decade of being steeped in marketing to women "speak", I am certain of one thing. Co-operate values are primarily women values.
No, that doesn't mean that they are not men's values. But not primarily!
Women speak and hear a language of connection and intimacy, and men speak and hear a language of status and independence. Men communicate to obtain information, establish their status, and show independence. Women communicate to create relationships, encourage interaction, and exchange feelings.
Men are more transactional...and women are more relational.
Men identify with competition...and women identify with co-operation.
And before anyone points out that there are always exceptions to anything, let me clarify everything above by saying they are "all" for the most part or as a general rule.
Inclusion, information, education, cooperation...these are all terms you hear consistently about the co-operative movement. And you also hear them repeadly from several of the marketing to women experts it's been my priviledge to know, like Holly Buchanan, Andrea Learned and Dr. Judith Tingley.
So you might say, Roger, you've been pitching these differences and the need for credit unions to engage women forever...isn't this just another "pitch"?
Well, no...and for the following reason.
You see, with the non-cooperative model, the above forms of communication are "optional". In the cooperative model, they should be inherent. Inclusion, information, education and cooperation are the DNA of the co-operative model!
So what is the role of women in the Co-operative model. The subject really hasn't been addressed stateside, but it has in Europe...more specifically, England.
And the patterns are pretty predictable. They are best expresed in this recent white paper called A Woman's Place In The Co-operative Movement.
That paper spells out that "Co-operative" women are having the same challenges in many Co-opertive efforts that women are having every every business model worldwide...more inclusion in the leadership and on boards.
In my recent contribution to CUinsight, I strongly suggested that credit unions (US, anyway) were extrememly "light" on integrating the cooperative principles into their formal marketing and culture.
There's no doubt that it will be more challenging to do so than simply continuing to tout "products"!
But, in my opinion, it will be a whole lot easier if they point those "co-operative" messages towards women!