CUNA News is running a series of Q&As with female leaders in the credit union movement in honor of Women’s History Month.
Tonita Webb is executive vice president and chief operating officer of Seattle CU. She has been in the credit union industry for 15 years.
Q: In honor of Women’s History Month, what does diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) mean to you?
A: It means that we (thinking intersectionality) need to be represented, receive fair pay and treatment, and all types of women get to show up as their authentic selves. No one should be forced to assimilate to someone’s idea of who they should be.
Q: Why should DEI matter to the credit union movement?
A: We serve many communities and we should be representing the community. If we do not have representation from the communities that we serve, then we are failing them.
Q: Tell us about a hurdle that you overcame during your career and how it shaped your drive to succeed.
A: I have been often ignored or undermined by colleagues. Whether it has been in my work environments or at outside events. It is extremely upsetting to be treated this way; so, I have developed coping mechanisms in order to press through and make sure my voice is heard.
I also sought help from a therapist to help me deal with the pain of the incidents of being marginalized, belittled or just plain ignored.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to other professionals in the credit union movement?
A: Work on yourself and know your capabilities. Understand when people try to tell you that you should not be there, know that their statement is more of a reflection of them and has nothing to do with you.
Fight imposter syndrome like your life depends on it. We all have it and it is completely normal as well as curable.
Q: How do you promote diversity and inclusion within your organization or in your personal life?
A: In both, I seek to understand and learn. I like hearing from people who have different experiences and backgrounds than me.
When I listen, I gain additional perspective giving me the opportunity to know how to help whether it is in my personal or professional life.