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Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: Have You Noticed 
Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 10/8/03
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 of Eastman-Kodak.

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 receivable management.

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 then Martians.

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.

This 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.

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