As CU membership diversifies, CUs should follow suit

June 18, 2019

CUNA, state leagues individual credit unions and other strategic partners are working to deepen diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) throughout the industry at both the organizational and member levels, writes Samira Salem, CUNA senior policy analyst in Credit Union Journal Tuesday. In her op-ed, Salem demonstrates the strong business case, as well as changing societal demographics that make DEI a vital part of any business.

“Mounting evidence suggests that advancing diversity, equity and inclusion among staff and boards makes good business sense. Research finds that more diverse organizations tend to perform better, are more innovative, more collaborative and more responsive to customer needs while also attracting and retaining top talent,” she wrote. “More broadly, we know that the U.S. is becoming increasingly multicultural; by 2044, people of color will constitute the majority of the U.S. population. To stay relevant and competitive in this rapidly changing marketplace, credit unions must be intentional about reaching and better serving this increasingly diverse population.”

She also notes that policymakers have made it clear that DEI is a priority at the policy level, and credit unions and other financial institutions could face increased scrutiny when it comes to being more diverse, equitable and inclusive in both makeup and service.

As a movement, credit unions are natural proponents of DEI as member-controlled, democratically controlled, not-for-profit entities.

“We have a history of serving underserved and diverse communities. But we can and must do better, further ensconcing DEI in the credit union mission and structure so that we can better serve the changing face of our world and our members,” she writes. “To advance DEI, we need to know where we stand as a movement, identifying those areas where we are doing well and others where we can grow. In this vein, CUNA has initiated research that looks at how credit unions are faring when it comes to DEI.”

While CUNA’s research shows credit unions have some positive statistics when it comes to DEI, they also present challenges for the movement.

“There are some bright spots that we can celebrate, but there are is also a lot of room for growth,” she writes. “Expanding DEI in the credit union movement is a journey, and CUNA and the leagues are committed to equipping credit unions for that journey in order to lead the movement and the industry in better serving the changing face of our workforce and membership.”