Diversity as an engine for growth

Webinar explores Latino DEI experience, offers ‘business model’ for leadership opportunities.

October 15, 2020

Credit union leaders offered insights into the Latino diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experience  Wednesday during a webinar sponsored by the National Association of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP) and Inclusiv.

Pablo DeFilippi, senior vice president of membership and network engagement at Inclusiv, notes that as the U.S. heads toward a minority majority population, where the nonwhite population exceeds 50%, credit unions must identify more leadership opportunities for minorities within their organizations.

“We are not very diverse in our industry, and we have to recognize that,” DeFilippi says. “To the extent that we can build our labor force and develop young leaders we will be in a better position to serve diverse  communities and be relevant in the future. There’s a whole business model  that we need to develop, and diversity is the engine behind that.”

Another piece of that business model is Juntos Avanzamos, a program led by Inclusiv which recognizes credit unions committed to uplifting and serving the Hispanic community.

Juntos Avanzamos is built around two pillars: flexible account-opening requirements and access to credit, which together provide entry to  mainstream financial services.

“People come here to build their dreams, and their dreams are our dreams,” DeFilippi says. “Everyone wants to build a future and achieve financial security, and to do that they need access to what we offer.”

Premier America Credit Union in  Chatsworth, Calif., is  building DEI into its rebranding efforts, says Rudy Pereira, president/CEO of the $3 billion asset credit union. That includes significant fee reductions to provide financial access to more  consumers.

“I want every member to be treated the same,” Pereira says. “People shouldn’t be charged for accessing their money. But that means you have to be sharp in how you run your credit union. You have to be efficient and use technology to your advantage.”

Maria Martinez, president/CEO of $193 million asset Border Federal Credit Union, Del Rio, Texas, and NLCUP chair,  unveiled a video the organization created to recruit more Latinos and Hispanic employees into the credit union movement.

Martinez urges Latinos to forge their own path within credit unions.

“We must not wait for others to include us,” she says. “If you try, you can win new ground. If there's a group  you want to be in but you don't see people like you,  get involved. Our industry is fair, but we must also look for those opportunities and not wait for someone to come looking for us.”