Authenticity in the workplace

Review policies to ensure clarity and identify inadvertent discrimination.

August 12, 2020

As credit unions work to become more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces, they must continue to respect employees’ right to self-expression and the ability to feel they can be their authentic selves at work, says Carlos Molina, senior risk consultant at CUNA Mutual Group.

“As employers, credit unions are measuring the need to provide the right amount of self-expression while still maintaining a corporate image,” says Molina, who spoke at the CUNA HR Compliance Rule Changes Virtual Conference.

In response, he suggests reviewing policies in these areas:

► Political viewpoints and beliefs. The policy should clearly indicate what is and what is not allowed while working, such as whether it’s acceptable to wear a political pin or use company resources to carry out political activities. 

Also consider restricting the use of company email for outside political endeavors or to promote personal, political, or religious beliefs.

‘Credit unions are measuring the need to provide the right amount of self-expression while still maintaining a corporate image.’
Carolos Molina

► Dress code. As diversity increases, make sure policies don’t inadvertently discriminate against any racial, ethnic, or other protected group.

For example, if the dress code prohibits head coverings, are there built-in exceptions for religious groups that require woman to wear a head cover or veil? How does the dress code accommodate hair color and length, and tattoos or other forms of body art?

“If you have a policy that limits a specific type of clothing, you must have a conversation with the person about why,” Molina says. “Be careful with dress code requirements so you’re not discriminating against protected groups.”

► Social media. While it may be acceptable for employees to have personal, nonwork-related social media accounts, do you have a policy in place about what is appropriate to post if their accounts indicate their work relationship with the credit union?

“You will have employees who are increasingly vocal around political issues leading up to the election,” Molina says. “It will cause some conflict, and you’ll be called on to have some rather difficult conversations.”