Credit Union Group Launches Initiative to Improve Industry Diversity

In a new report, the Credit Union National Association outlined plans to develop more inclusive workspaces, expand DEI efforts for members, and collaborate with other associations to create resources.

The Credit Union National Association has committed to taking action to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in its field. Last week, CUNA issued a report [PDF] outlining plans to create more inclusive workspaces, expand DEI efforts, and partner with other organizations to develop DEI resources.

“We recognized that DEI is in a credit unions’ DNA,” said Samira Salem, Ph.D., CUNA vice president for DEI. “It’s at the very genesis of credit unions. They were providing opportunities for folks who were outside the traditional system. This philosophy of people helping people has been part of our mission.”

Salem said CUNA’s board asked the organization to “create measurable ways the organization can commit to action,” after George Floyd’s death, and CUNA is focusing on making sure the organization better reflects the communities it serves.

“Being able to reflect these communities in our organization is an important way that we can better serve them,” she said. “Understanding that we have a real shift in demographics in our country, and if we want to better serve this changing demographic, not only do we need to live our mission as the credit union movement, but we need to do it with intentionality.”

While this year’s events have brought a renewed focus on DEI, such efforts are nothing new. However, Salem said these new efforts bring with them a new realization about the barriers to DEI. “It has helped us to understand that the issues around becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive are systemic,” she said. “There is a deeper understanding of what that means.”

CUNA has already provided free webinar training to members on infusing DEI practices into their work, and it plans to hold more sessions in the future. “It was received so well; there was demand for more,” Salem said. “We will also continue to do a number of Credit Union Magazine articles and podcasts on DEI.”

In addition, CUNA has partnered with other groups, including the African American Credit Union Coalition and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, to provide more DEI resources. “In order to really push this work forward, it’s important that we have partners that are working at this from different angles,” Salem said. “We are stronger when we work with our partners.”

One partnership initiative includes “creating an online community of practice aimed at Black credit union professionals,” Salem said. They can use it to network, exchange ideas, and get professional development.

While COVID-19 has negatively affected so many parts of society, Salem said it won’t negate CUNA’s DEI plans. “We know COVID and the recession are having a disparate impact on vulnerable populations,” Salem said. “This is the time to double down on DEI efforts for credit union employees and their members. It lines up well with our philosophy of people helping people.”

(payamona/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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