Mar/Apr
2014

Ahead of the curve

Written by Jennifer Gangloff
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banking

AHEAD of the CURVE

How women executives put Home Federal Savings Bank on the honor roll.

It isn’t too often after high school or college that we get excited about making an honor roll. But one Rochester–area company couldn’t be happier about their honor roll status and rightfully so.

Last year Home Federal Savings Bank once again made the “Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership” Honor Roll. Reserved for Minnesota publicly held companies with 20% or more women corporate directors and 20% or more women executive officers, it is a feat too few companies have achieved. Home Federal, however, has done it five years in a row—one of only six Minnesota publicly held companies to do so. 

“Women have always played a big role at Home Federal and will continue to do so.”

— Lisa Ketterling, Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Home Federal

 

CULTURE, NOT QUOTA

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, Home Federal has a long history of supporting women executives in banking. From its founding in 1934 in Spring Valley as a mutual savings and loan bank to its transformation as a publicly held corporation in 1994, Home Federal has fostered at least 13 female vice presidents—three of whom began as tellers—and elected four women to its board of directors.

Sue Kolling, Senior Vice President, Director of Cash Management, began on Home Federal’s teller line in 1969. Encouraged by the company and motivated by her desire to learn and advance, Kolling moved up to head teller, then into mortgage lending, human resources, marketing and management of the Spring Valley office. By 2001, Kolling was a senior vice president and the second woman to serve on Home Federal’s board of directors (following Irma Rathbun, Home Federal’s first female director elected in 1988).

“The history of the bank—and people like Sue Kolling and the female members of the board—helped create a culture where there is no difference between men and women in executive roles,” says Lisa Ketterling, Vice President, Director of Human Resources, who left a 17-year career in healthcare to join Home Federal because of its size and philosophy. “Everyone has earned their role based on their knowledge, drive and ambition. People start here, and they don’t have to look very hard or far to see what the opportunities are regardless of gender.”

Carla Kilpatrick, Senior Vice President, Director of Business Banking, also began in banking as a teller. Like Kolling, she moved up through the ranks, receiving additional education, mentoring and training along the way. She joined Home Federal 12 years ago and finds banking a nice fit for female executives.

“I personally have found banking to be an excellent career for a woman. It’s an occupation where women are readily accepted in executive positions as long as their employer supports that philosophy,” says Kilpatrick. “I think the philosophy at Home Federal affects women and men equally. The difference at Home Federal is that the environment has given women the courage to seek these management roles.”

 

WOMEN ON BOARD

In 2012, women held—on average—14.5% of the board seats of Minnesota’s 100 largest publicly held companies. At HMN Financial (holding company for Home Federal), Wendy Shannon and Karen Himle are two of the nine current board members. They represent 22.22% of the board, a figure well above the state average.

“From the minute I joined the board, I felt valued by all the directors and senior management,” says Shannon, former Superintendent of Byron Public Schools. “One thing I’ve been impressed with on the Home Federal board is the culture that has been built to foster teamwork—including women in key positions and the positive treatment of women by their male colleagues. It’s not uncommon to be in an executive loan committee meeting and see accolades go back and forth between male and female senior managers.”

Women in the boardroom are crucial for reasons other than gender equality, according to a 2006 study by the Wellesley Centers for Women. The study found that one woman on a board is just a token but two or more substantially change the dynamics and interactions of the board, including the ability to surface tough issues and foster collaboration to solve them.

“Women bring diversity in terms of our perspective and the way that we think. We ask key questions, look for inclusion and can help build synergy,” adds Shannon.

The study also found that female directors open channels for women in upper management.

“When I started out in my career, there weren’t many women in leadership roles,” says Karen Himle, Member of the Board of Directors for HMN Financial. “Now there are. It is a paradigm shift. It makes me happy to think that a young woman starting her career can see a path that is limitless because she sees women serving on a corporate board.”

Marlene Petersen is a novelist, freelance writer, editor, lawyer, former professor, mother and wife who knows women can shatter any ceiling so long as they have the courage to break the glass and an employer willing to lend the tools.

“Women have always played a big role at Home Federal and will continue to do so.”

— Lisa Ketterling, Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Home Federal

 

Federal 12 years ago and finds banking a nice fit for female executives.

“I personally have found banking to be an excellent career for a woman. It’s an occupation where women are readily accepted in executive positions as long as their employer supports that philosophy,” says Kilpatrick. “I think the philosophy at Home Federal affects women and men equally. The difference at Home Federal is that the environment has given women the courage to seek these management roles.”

WOMEN ON BOARD

In 2012, women held—on average—14.5% of the board seats of Minnesota’s 100 largest publicly held companies. At HMN Financial (holding company for Home Federal), Wendy Shannon and Karen Himle are two of the nine current board members. They represent 22.22% of the board, a figure well above the state average.

“From the minute I joined the board, I felt valued by all the directors and senior management,” says Shannon, former Superintendent of Byron Public Schools. “One thing I’ve been impressed with on the Home Federal board is the culture that has been built to foster teamwork—including women in key positions and the positive treatment of women by their male colleagues. It’s not uncommon to be in an executive loan committee meeting and see accolades go back and forth between male and female senior managers.”

Women in the boardroom are crucial for reasons other than gender equality, according to a 2006 study by the Wellesley Centers for Women. The study found that one woman on a board is just a token but two or more substantially change the dynamics and interactions of the board, including the ability to surface tough issues and foster collaboration to solve them.

“Women bring diversity in terms of our perspective and the way that we think. We ask key questions, look for inclusion and can help build synergy,” adds Shannon.

The study also found that female directors open channels for women in upper management.

“When I started out in my career, there weren’t many women in leadership roles,” says Karen Himle, Member of the Board of Directors for HMN Financial. “Now there are. It is a paradigm shift. It makes me happy to think that a young woman starting her career can see a path that is limitless because she sees women serving on a corporate board.”


PAVING THE WAY WITH ROOM TO GROW: WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP STATISTICS

• With 14.5% of women on boards and 21.9% of women executives, Minnesota leads the nation in women in leadership roles.

• Of the top 100 publicly held companies in Minnesota listed in the SEC filings of June 30, 2012, 31 have only men on their boards and 36 have only male executives.

• Only half of Minnesota’s 100 largest publicly held companies have both women corporate directors and women executive officers.

• Women of color, sadly, still hold only 2% of the available board seats in Minnesota’s 100 largest publicly held companies. Nationwide, women of color hold between 0.4% and 3.5% of the available board seats at companies.

Source: The 2012 Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership, a report produced by St. Catherine University, which examines the percentage of women in leadership roles at the 100 largest publicly held companies headquartered in Minnesota. Jennifer Gangloff

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