SPIRE Credit Union’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Council will help the Falcon Heights, Minn.-based organization “listen, learn, and act” from recent racial discussions.
The council’s goals are to enhance SPIRE’s organizational culture, community involvement, and employee understanding about diversity and inclusion.
Made up of seven staff members from different departments and branches, the council will provide a voice for SPIRE’s staff and a resource for the senior leadership team, says Justin Burleson, senior vice president/chief operating officer at the $1.2 billion asset credit union.
“Although SPIRE has always taken diversity and inclusion seriously, recent events around the country have shown there is much work to be done, “ Burleson says. “Leaders have suggested that organizations listen first and better understand before trying to solve something many people and organizations don’t fully understand.
“The council is part of that listening. Once we listen, we will begin to look internally and see what we can do better.”
Council member and SPIRE Financial Service Officer Nili Verma says the internal group will be “creative and innovative, and give a direct boost to the cultural heritage of the credit union.”
SPIRE donated $250,000 to 187 organizations in Minnesota for COVID-19 relief. But the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter Movement have changed the context of its “We Care” core value.
“As a community, we simply must do better,” Burleson says.
The council held its initial meeting in June, when it appointed officers and discussed “goals, wishes, and dreams on a high level,” Burleson says.
The council is a recommending body that will present ideas and initiatives for management and human resources to consider, Burleson says. The group will also work with SPIRE staff and the community partners “to help drive continued positive change.”
The council meets on a monthly basis with members serving one-year terms.