there has been a gender shift in the credit profession
and that’s not a bad thing.
When I began my credit career, over thirty years
ago, the only women in the credit department were support personnel,
clerks and typists (remember typewriters?) A college degree was an
asset but pants were a requirement to qualify for a collection or
credit position. Back then, men tended to get more respect from the
customers (both male and female) and men were usually more aggressive
(an attribute management rewarded).
Credit and collections was different back then.
Credit was treated as a privilege rather then a right and paying your
bills on time was the honorable thing to do. Those that did not pay
their bills were truly “deadbeats” but they were not common.
Because of this, the position of credit professional was not looked
upon as an important function in the development of the business but
rather a position of applying “debits and credits” and thus many
credit professionals were imported from the accounting department
To many, the credit department was an “entry
level” position or a “stop” along the way as one aspired to
loftier positions in their organizations or “climb their way to the
top”. For example, Robert Crandall, the former chairman of AMR, the
parent of American Airlines, began his career in the credit department
Women were still viewed by management as
temporary employees who would eventually marry, take maternity leave
and retire from the workplace to become full time homemakers.
As the role of credit began to change in the
1980’s so did the credit professional. In the 1980’s women began
to emerge in the credit profession. Several factors can be attributed
to this evolution. Two income families, single working mothers,
educational opportunities provided by organizations such as the Credit
and Financial Development Division of NACM and the recognition by
management that women were remaining in their positions longer and not
as likely to change jobs as often as their male counterparts.
In his book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from
Venus”, John Gray describes the differences between men and women
both in social and business relationships. Women tend to be more
successful in credit & collections due to their willingness and
ability to adapt, listen and display empathy. Whereas, the male
counterpart’s position is usually one of “our way or the
highway”. Women were proving to be very successful in accounts
In a perfect world, the ideal credit department
would be made up of equal groups of men and women who are not only
inquisitive but skilled in listening, negotiating and motivating.
In addition they would be customer oriented with the ability to speak
clearly. These attributes are usually found more often in Venusians
Although these attributes are taught in seminar,
more often then not, they are embraced more by women then men.
Collection problems will continue to increase regardless of the
economy and the time has come to abandon our Martian ways if we want
to be successful in our endeavors.
I wish you well.
information is provided as information only and not legal advice.
Legal advice should be obtained from a competent, licensed attorney,
in good standing with the state bar association.