By Katie Crosby, Chairman of the Board of Fidelity Bank
In 2003, when I was invited to join the Board of Directors at Fidelity Bank (Fidelity Homestead at the time), I was the first female director in the Bank’s 95 year history and also the youngest director by approximately 20 years. Needless to say, it was intimidating. I had a business background and had been active in the volunteer community, but there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, I had nine willing teachers in my fellow directors. As has been recommended in previous columns, my first and ongoing focus has been to educate myself about the industry and Fidelity. I was willing to ask questions and to speak up when I did not understand. I found that when I was not clear about an issue and asked for more information, there were always others in the room that were equally unclear. I also have made it a priority to be prepared for all meetings. When you ask relevant questions based on the information provided for review prior to any meeting, you gain respect and the meeting runs more efficiently. Do your homework. Share your thoughts and opinions. Banking has been traditionally male oriented at the leadership level and your opinions can bring a fresh perspective to the table.
My final recommendation is to find ways to make it fun. Board meetings can be long, especially when they are held after lunch. After about 6 months of serving on the board, I showed up with small candy dishes for the board table. We still have those candy dishes on our Board table and everyone appreciates that small treat during our meetings.
Often women tend to feel disappointed with any effort of theirs that is less than perfect. We should be more forgiving of ourselves. We are human and showing that we are willing to put our best efforts into a project while also asking for assistance from those with expertise outside of ours is important. I have now been Board Chair at Fidelity for 7 years. We have a fabulous board with varied backgrounds and now a second female director. They have been invaluable advisors over the years and I have learned to rely on their experience and expertise on many occasions.