Graduating with a purpose
Pamela Lambkins powers diversity, equity, and inclusion work at Together Credit Union.
As a graduate of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative’s Fellows Program, Pamela Lambkins is motivated to make a difference. The branch manager at $2 billion asset Together Credit Union in St. Louis honed her leadership skills and built essential relationships with other professionals. Of the 87 Fellows in her cohort, Lambkins was also the only graduate from the credit union industry.
Lambkins will apply her expertise to her work on the credit union’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. "In the words of John Lewis, I want to be purposeful to get into 'good trouble,'" she says.
Credit Union Magazine: What are some of the most important insights you gained during the program?
Pamela Lambkins: Something that’s always going to stick with me is showing up and being present. You can’t sit back and wait—when you want to develop, you have to go for it.
Working for a company that values you and that is aligned with your goals is also important. You need a paycheck, but it makes it so much more worthwhile when you work for a great company. I know Together Credit Union values me.
Finally, the program inspired me to get involved with my community by finding a volunteer opportunity or sitting on a board for something that’s near and dear to me.
Q: What did you learn about yourself as a leader?
A: I realized I’m more of an introvert than I thought. I used to be more comfortable in one-on-one settings. The program not only made me aware of who I was, but also what I could do by getting comfortable with networking in a group setting. I had 86 other people reinforcing my confidence, so I’m more of a social introvert now!
Q: As the only participant from the credit union movement, what knowledge did you share?
A: There were many Fortune 500 companies represented, so I felt excited to spend time with people from these large companies.
But during the program, my credit union went through a name change from Anheuser-Busch Employees Credit Union to Together Credit Union. And then we went through a core conversion. Those experiences made me unique within the group.
Most of the participants were also working from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19), and several have asked me how Together Credit Union handled reopening and functioning during the pandemic. I’ve had people reach out to me regarding membership, mortgages, loans, community development, and financial classes.
Q: How will this experience affect your work at the credit union?
A: I’m more confident and able to speak out more. I actually see myself as a leader. I think my credit union has seen me grow. I became part of a year long leadership program at the credit union, in which we have a project we will present to senior management.
The program also helped me become a better leader and show more empathy for my peers and employees.
Q: As a member of Together’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, what goals are you pursuing?
A: We’re tackling talent and development to make sure we’re being intentional about where we post job openings. We’re making sure we create an environment that is diverse and all-inclusive.
We also started sessions for sharing and listening in which members of the Council, other employees, and senior leadership participate. That’s what I’m most excited about. Those conversations open a door because we can hear from staff whether we’re living up to our mission.
Q: What advice can you share for other leaders who are striving for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at their credit unions?
A: To start the journey, you’ve got to have buy-in from the top. If you have that, you can develop goals and build your business case. Then, focus on getting employees involved. Learn about yourselves and move forward with action. From there, you just have to preach it and live it.
This article appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Credit Union Magazine. Subscribe here.