CUES Podcast
CUES Podcast
Mar 10, 2020
CUES 87: MSU FCU's a Great Workplace for Women Because It's a Great Workplace for Everyone—An Interview With April Clobes
Play • 36 min

$4.8 billion MSU Federal Credit Union, E. Lansing, Michigan, hires about 10 new staff members a month. The first question these employees tend to ask the organization’s president/CEO is, “When is everyone going to stop saying ‘hi’ to me?” or “When is it going to be real?”

That president/CEO, CUES member April Clobes, explains in this episode of the CUES Podcast how she responds to such questions: “I tell them, ‘Nope, that’s the daily real. It continues if you continue it. How will you greet the next group of new employees?”

Clobes says the credit union makes a concerted effort to have a stand-out culture—one that will both attract and retain employees. Something must be working because, in February, MSU FCU was named as one of the top 100 workplaces for women by Fortune magazine for the third consecutive year. It also has received numerous other awards for being a great place to work and its community involvement.

“I get a lot of questions from employees about our culture and worrying that it’s going to change,” Clobes says in this episode. “Our culture continues to exist because we all add value to it. My role isn’t to be the full owner of the culture. But my role is to ensure that the culture and the values we set for our organization remain intact. I may have the hard job of saying, ‘We can’t do this,’ because it doesn’t reflect on our values and add to our culture. I have to ensure that we don’t let the edges erode.”

In the episode, Clobes emphasizes that she believes MSU FCU is a great workplace for women because it is—by design—a great workplace for everyone. 

For example, MSU FCU supports resource groups for various populations among the staff, including African-Americans, members of the LGBTQIA community and working moms. 

“Those groups come together under employee leadership to make sure that we have programs and processes that are supportive of every person at the organization—so make sure we’re using clarifying language that is not skewed for one gender or another or one background or another or one ethnic group or another,” Clobes explains. “We really work with the employees to have diversity and inclusion be very important to our organization.

“I think that translates in terms of being recognized as a great place to work for women,” she adds. “In my time working at the credit union, there’s always been more women employees here. I think the nature of the credit union industry attracts women for employment. Maybe what’s different at our organization … is that we have for a large credit union a reasonably high number of women in leadership positions. That comes from a philosophy of the board and my predecessor and myself that each person has an equal opportunity to be successful, so women have always been included. They’ve always been elevated to leadership. They’ve always been promoted. I think that translates to having more women in leadership and visibly shows employees that you also can achieve that role and success.”

The show also gets into:

  • The work involved in continuously cultivating a great culture
  • MSU FCU’s attractive-to-employees compensation and benefits programs
  • Why Clobes thinks the credit union industry as a whole is a great place to work
  • A book Clobes recommends
  • The value of reflection in leadership
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