DEI fulfills credit union mission, strengthens advocacy

March 2, 2021

Credit unions embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is good for business and advocacy, said CUNA Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Samira Salem wrote in the credit union section of American Banker Tuesday in conjunction with the 2021 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. Salem notes that with Democratic control of Congress and the White House, enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the financial services sector is a priority.

Salem adds that credit unions face legislative barriers to deepening financial equity and inclusion, particularly field of membership requirements.

“When it comes down to it, it’s a modern-day form of federally sanctioned exclusion. Relaxing or eliminating these restrictions aligns our advocacy goals with those of policymakers on both sides of the aisle who want to ensure their communities have expanded access to affordable and equitable financial services,” she wrote. “Ultimately, we must be ready to show policymakers what credit unions are doing with the powers they currently have to fulfill their mission to deepen financial equity and inclusion, and advance financial well-being for all.”

DEI is one of the biggest tools credit unions can leverage for growth in an increasingly diverse market, Salem writes, and CUNA research supports this conclusion.

A recent study shows that credit unions which invested more in reaching out to and serving Latino communities saw higher membership, asset and loan growth than those that did not. Furthermore, portfolio quality either improved slightly or remained unchanged for those credit unions that invested in reaching and serving Latino communities.

“We believe these findings are not unique to Latinos but hold true for efforts to reach and better serve diverse members more generally,” she writes.

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