CUs must continue investment in diverse populations to succeed

May 1, 2019

Credit unions are committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and have a long history of serving underserved and diverse communities CUNA wrote to the House Financial Services subcommittee on diversity and inclusion Wednesday. CUNA submitted its letter for the record of the subcommittee’s hearing on diversity and inclusion in the context of business.

“Advancing DEI is an explicit priority of credit union leadership, including CUNA’s Board of Directors which has taken steps to ensure the association’s governance processes and workforce reflect these principles,” the letter reads. “Further, CUNA has committed to be a thought-leader on DEI for credit unions. Together, CUNA, the state credit union leagues and associations, credit union service organizations and credit unions are working to deepen DEI in the credit union industry at both the organizational and member levels.

“There is momentum around DEI at credit unions manifested in efforts to benchmark, set operational goals, and measure credit union workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion; research how credit unions are reaching and serving diverse populations; standing-room only DEI panel discussions at major credit union conferences; and commitments from leadership to make DEI a priority,” it adds.

The letter also notes:

  • That three decades’ worth of compelling research shows that organizations with diverse leaders tend to perform better, are more innovative and are more successful at attracting and retaining top talent, as well as better serve the needs of diverse consumers;
  • Credit unions are unique in the marketplace and lead the way when it comes to gender diversity with 52% of credit union CEOs being women, compared to 6% of Fortune 500 company CEOs and approximately 5% of bank CEOs;
  • Credit unions acknowledge that there is more work to be done, and that credit unions acknowledge that increasing diversity of credit union leadership is critical and credit unions must be intentional about increasing diversity and inclusion at leadership, board, and staff levels;
  • Credit unions serve approximately the same percentage of households of color as banks (that operate without field-of-membership restrictions), contribute to wealth-building for racially and ethnically diverse members;
  • Credit unions auto loan rates are approximately 1.6 percentage points lower than other financial institutions for people of color;
  •  Nearly 10% of all credit unions are Minority Depository Institutions, which served 3.9 million members and generated $311 million in direct financial benefits to MDI credit union members; and
  • CUNA is working with other organizations in the credit union space to advance DEI priorities system-wide.

It also notes previous CUNA Board Chairman Maurice Smith’s call for “diversity and inclusion” to be added to the seven cooperative principles.