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Embracing Equity on International Women’s Day 2023

Celebrating women’s achievements, forging women’s empowerment, and building workplaces where women thrive.

I am writing this in late February 2023 from my hotel room in Washington D.C., where I am attending the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), the largest annual convention for the credit union industry. This morning I had the opportunity to hear a professional futurist, Yas Arikan, speak on the foresight process at Filene's GAC Chair's Breakfast. A futurist’s role is not to predict the future, but rather to try to plan for potential scenarios that may occur. As I listened to this presentation, I felt it bore relevance to the topic of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023.

IWD is celebrated each year on March 8th as part of Women’s History Month. When IWD was first launched in 1911, it established its purpose to advance women’s equality. More than 100 years later, we are still working toward the advancement of equality as evidenced by this year’s official IWD theme #EmbraceEquity.



Embracing Equity


Embracing Equity will mean something different to each one of us. The IWD organization describes it as:

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.


How do we evolve from a place of imagining a gender equal world to actually realizing one? It won’t happen overnight — after all, IWD has been working to move that one goal forward since 1911 — but is still one we can work toward, starting with IWD 2023.



“Strategic Doing”

That is what brings me back to the futurist’s discussion this morning. She spoke of the four questions that drive “Strategic Doing,” as based on the book Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership. These four questions provide a continuum upon which strategies can be not only formulated, but also successfully implemented. This strategic formula is one we can each employ in our personal and professional lives to drive and #EmbraceEquity.

  1. What could we do? There is so much opportunity for what we can do to help facilitate gender equity that it is hard to even know where to start. But if we don’t start, change will not follow. In our professional environments we can make a concerted effort to provide all employees with the resources and tools to make them more promotable. If our employees are not trained and provided with the appropriate skills needed to be viewed as leaders within our organizations, they will be bypassed when promotional opportunities arise. As the Chair of our State National Women’s Network, I, along with our Network’s leadership team, strive to provide programming and education that will help advance the careers of our colleagues.
  2. What should we do? We all know we should hire and promote without bias. Sometimes we don’t even realize our biases exist until we take a step back and see consistent patterns that may indicate an unconscious bias prevails. While this is not to imply we should only hire women in leadership roles to “even the playing field,” we are obligated to recruit and interview from a diverse candidate pool to ensure all candidates are represented and given an equal opportunity.
  3. What will we do? IWD has become an annual day of reflection for me — a day to set my goals for the coming year and to commit to what I will do to support the current year’s IWD theme. What will I do to support #EmbraceEquity? I am making this public commitment to support all genders in a like manner without preconceived biases, stereotypes, or discrimination. That is my plan. What will YOU do?
  4. What’s our 30/30? This last question is intended to create a plan to evaluate, approximately 30 days from now, what we have learned or witnessed and what we will do differently in the next 30 days. While I refer to this as the “last question,” it is really the first question in starting the process all over again as we continue to grow and evolve.


Awareness and Commitment Create Change

State National will be celebrating IWD 2023 in our corporate headquarters with fun and informative events planned for our employees. Creating awareness is the first step in facilitating change. Progress comes one person and one day at a time. If we are all committed to fostering change, it may not require another 112 years before the world realizes a life free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.


State National Celebrates International Women's Day 2023


To learn more about International Women’s Day, or to access resources to take action within your community, visit


Francine Gagliano
Francine Gagliano
State National Director of Client Services Francine Gagliano leads our Client Executive Group in the Central Region to facilitate client satisfaction and retention while also managing our GAP product. Ms. Gagliano currently serves as the Chair of the State National Women’s Network, which has a mission of creating a community of aspiring female leaders at all levels within the organization who support one another’s pursuit of excellence.

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Embracing Equity on International Women’s Day 2023

Celebrating women’s achievements, forging women’s empowerment, and building workplaces where women thrive.

Tackling Inflation and the Automobile Industry: A Simple Solution to Reduce Future Auto Loan Charge-offs

Despite Inflation, You Can Still Maintain a Competitive Advantage and Protect Your Auto Loan Portfolio   Spotlight Soundbite: The Value of Customized Portfolio Protection in the Subprime Auto Loan Market     Borrowers Are Facing Financial Stress The government’s stimulus checks have long run out, as have the grace periods many financial institutions implemented during the pandemic. Interest rates have soared and prices have inflated. Individuals have returned to work and are again bearing the costs of gas, transportation, and childcare. While cheery, the holiday season may be met equally with foreboding for some as they contemplate how to balance their checkbooks with the looming expectation of events and gifts on top of already heightened regular expenses. While buy now and pay later programs may offer temporary relief, borrowers will ultimately not be able to put off making tough decisions about where to spend and save. Unfortunately, a growing number of auto loan borrowers, and especially subprime borrowers, are choosing to drop or reduce their auto insurance coverage as a result of having to decide which bills to pay with their increasingly stretched paychecks. And these uninsured or underinsured borrowers pose a threat to your institution’s loan portfolio and profitability. The news isn’t all grim, however — State National can help protect your financial institution from the risks posed by this group. How to Minimize Charge-offs Caused by Uninsured Borrowers Do you currently use an insurance tracking system to keep track of your borrowers’ coverage status in an attempt to prevent charge-offs? It’s a good start — tracking is a critical part of monitoring your institution’s risk exposure. However, having your staff track insurance in-house is a time-consuming and inefficient solution. More concerning, even if you employ an outside vendor to track coverage for you, studies show that tracking alone is not enough to encourage borrowers to keep their insurance in force. Without a consequence for remaining uninsured or underinsured, it’s been shown time and time again that a significant portion of borrowers, particularly in the low prime and subprime space, simply will not heed warnings to bring their loans into compliance no matter how many letters or phone calls they get reminding them to do so. Without a mechanism that will actually change borrower behavior, tracking alone still leaves too much risk in your portfolio. A Persistent Problem — With an InsurTech Solution The good news is, you can more thoroughly protect your portfolio while also saving labor costs and freeing up your staff to perform other tasks to grow your business. And you can do it all easily, seamlessly, and with total peace of mind when it comes to compliance. Protecting collateral from loss is most definitely not the same as it was “in the old days” — or even just a few years ago. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other leading-edge technology solutions have changed the game when it comes to mitigating the risk from uninsured borrowers. From software bots that can log in to insurer websites and update thousands of insurance statuses in seconds to nearly effortless multichannel borrower submission options including QR codes, email, text, web, and more, collateral protection problems of the past are simply not an issue today, especially with State National as your provider. As I like to say, “This isn’t your grandpa's CPI!”     Save Time, Money, and Aggravation — What’s Not to Like? State National’s solutions provide tracking AND protect your portfolio. We also save your financial institution time with seamless implementation and multi-option borrower insurance submission solutions. Even better, there’s InsurTrak – our custom-designed proprietary technology platform where you can view all program details in real time with just a few clicks. Additionally, you can personalize your coverage around exactly what works best for your business. Whether you need you need a full-featured, comprehensive program, one that keeps costs at a minimum for borrowers, or something in between, State National can customize a program that best fits your needs.   A Simple Solution for Reduced Risk and Increased Profitability We have heard from some financial institutions that they “have no charge-offs” because they planned and allotted for a certain amount of loss. But money lost is still money lost even if you budgeted for it! What if you could save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars this year? Well, you can! Let me show you how you can leverage State National’s advanced technology and 50 years of experience mitigating loss from uninsured borrowers to proactively protect your business against today’s unpredictable economy and the wave of charge-offs your financial institution may be facing soon. It’s not too late to protect your portfolio from what’s coming our way.  

Amazing Things Happen When Female Executives Get Together

State National's Retreat Where Female Finance Executives Go to Network and Learn A 2021 report from CUNA indicated that 51% of CEOs at credit unions and 33% of credit union board members are female. Many organizations speak at length about the value of empowering and providing opportunities to women — yet this recognition must be met with action. For example, Kim Sponem, CEO of Summit Credit Union, took action by starting The Red Shoes initiative. Filene Research Institute actively creates research reports about women in credit union leadership. These are just two of many examples across the credit union industry. Missions like these are an important part of transforming the narrative of women and finance. State National Companies also recognizes the unique leadership traits and skillsets that female leaders bring to the financial services industry. To celebrate those traits and provide women leaders from across the country the opportunity to build relationships with their peers, we created our own initiative — an annual event called the Female Executive Networking (FEN) Retreat.   Why a Retreat Specifically for Female Executives? The goal of this annual retreat is multifold: Provide valuable, meaningful, and actionable education, information, and resources to senior credit unions and financial institutions executives that they can use to move their organizations forward. Create a forum for financial institution leaders from across the country to share best practices regarding leadership, retention, business growth, and operational excellence. Provide a rich and rewarding experience that organically allows connections and relationships to grow. Empower and inspire attendees to return to their financial institutions re-energized, with new ideas for accelerating the growth of their organizations. With these goals in mind, we launched our first FEN retreat in early 2020. And, oh, how critical it was for the female leaders who participated in this first event to achieve these goals — because at the time we didn’t realize were heading home to nearly two years of quarantine and isolation! A Most Welcome Return In 2021, after waiting 18 months from our launch date, we were more than eager to resume some sense of normalcy and held our second FEN Retreat. That year’s event featured Terri Trespicio, speaker, coach, and best-selling author of Unfollow Your Passion, as our keynote speaker and workshop leader. This year, our 2022 keynote workshop, titled How Macroeconomic Conditions Will Affect Your Financial Institution, Your Customers, and Your Household, was led by Marlena Lee, Ph.D., Global Head of Investment Solutions at Dimensional Fund Advisors, and Mary Ellen Krueger, Director, Wealth Management and Partner at Aspiriant. Not only are these FEN retreats educational, inspirational, and just plain fun, we at State National are also proud of being a part of the movement to empower even more women to lead in moving the credit union mission forward. After all, studies show that more female executives in a C-suite role can improve both customer orientation and financial performance. That’s a win-win-win — for credit unions, for their members, and for women in financial leadership. If you are interested in learning more about State National’s Female Executive Networking retreat, please contact your State National Client Executive or Regional Vice President.   Comments from FEN attendees: