Measuring diversity is certainly more complicated than just looking at pictures and drawing conclusions, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle and Board Chairman Brett Martinez told CUToday in an interview recently. The two conducted the interview shortly after CUNA’s board passed a resolution establishing diversity, equity and inclusion as a shared credit union cooperative principle.
Martinez, who serves as president/CEO of Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., said the idea of recognizing DEI has been around the credit union world for a long time, and CUNA started working on defining DEI and what it means a little more clearly in the past few years.
“I think a lot of people would argue [DEI] already embedded in the principles. This is just a first step and hopefully it will change the dialogue and lead to more discussion,” Martinez said. “We’ve had some very long conversations and deliberations over the years…It’s been encouraging, but it’s not just Maurice [Smith, former CUNA board chair and CEO of Local Government FCU]. He just started the conversation at a higher level.”
Nussle said the CUNA board has seen positive feedback from outside groups, including other credit unions, the African-American Credit Union Coalition and the Women’s Leadership Forum. He also noted he’s seen DEI discussions become a regular part of conferences, educational forums, CUNA roundtables and more.
“We will continue to put [ideas] forward. It is a topic boards have been discussing: how can this be brought back to the credit union in hiring, decision-making, etc,” he said.