The percentage of credit unions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) jumped by 23% over the last two years, CUNA Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Samira Salem wrote in Credit Union Times. Salem reflected on the credit union movement’s growing intentionality around DEI, from the CUNA board’s 2019 adoption of DEI as a cooperative principle to the credit unions’ latest work in the space.
“While many system partners and credit unions had been actively working on these issues,” Salem noted, the [2019 CUNA board] resolution elevated DEI and called upon credit unions to focus on it as a movement. This watershed moment helped galvanize our movement around this vital work.”
Since then, a lot has happened to encourage credit unions to increase their focus on DEI, not least among them being the murder of George Floyd and the pandemic. Salem underscored how these two watershed moments have created an urgency around how credit unions approach DEI. “[T]he pandemic exposed the awful truth that Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latino and LGBTQ+ people, and women (especially women of color), were disproportionately impacted by deep inequities.”
Since then, credit unions have a lot to point to on their DEI journeys. “Recent CUNA research found that in 2021, 60% of credit unions were intentionally focused on DEI (i.e., they are either planning DEI efforts or actively working to promote DEI and create more robust practices), up from 37% in 2019.” The same research, Salem noted, finds that about 80% of credit union members belong to a credit union on a DEI journey.”
Recongzing that every every credit union is on different points in their DEI journey, Salem shared lessons she has learned along the way: