Amy Nelson(left) and Angela Weekley discuss NCUA’s voluntary diversity self-assessment.

Diversity self-assessment fosters deeper conversations

Reports offer benchmarking data and insights beyond ‘what you can and can’t see.’

May 23, 2022

Credit unions that have participated in NCUA’s annual voluntary credit union diversity self-assessment have found it to be valuable benchmarking tool in their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, as well as a pathway to deeper conversations within their organizations.

“We wanted to know if we’re moving the needle in terms of making a difference with our [DEI] efforts,” says Angela Weekley, manager of community inclusion at $5.4 billion Veridian Credit Union, Waterloo, Iowa. “A key part of that is benchmarking. The assessment provides us with that feedback; that baseline information.”

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 required NCUA and other financial regulatory agencies to establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. The director of this office develops standards used to assess the diversity policies and practices of entities regulated by each agency, according to Miguel Polanco, director of NCUA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

NCUA and other financial regulators established joint standards for assessing diversity and inclusion policies and practices across several organizational areas. They assess the diversity and inclusion practices of their regulated entities annually based on those standards, Polanco says.

Conducting a self-assessment can help credit union leaders assess and guide their diversity efforts, evaluate their diversity and equity programs using consistent criteria in line with that of other federal financial regulators, and demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are strategic imperatives, he says.

Self-assessments also help NCUA identify industry progress and trends in DEI-related activities and develop training and support for credit unions’ ongoing development, according to Polanco. 

Weekley says the self-assessment is straightforward and doesn’t require excessive research on the part of participants. 

“Most credit unions will have the information on hand if they’ve started thinking about where they stand with DEI within their organizations,” she says.

Veridian has focused on DEI since the 1990s, Weekley says. “The one thing we didn’t have was data to see how we measured up against other credit unions. The report that NCUA provides is helpful in providing points of comparison.”

Point West Credit Union has participated in NCUA’s annual voluntary credit union diversity self-assessment for four years, says Amy Nelson, president/CEO of the $109 million asset, Portland, Ore.-based credit union.

She decided to participate in the self-assessment when Point West was in the process of earning its Juntos Avanzamos (“Together We Advance”) designation, which is awarded to credit unions that show a commitment to serving and empowering Hispanic consumers.

“We viewed it as opportunity to take what we've done from the Juntos Avanzamos certification process and start benchmarking and assessing what we're doing from a DEI perspective in totality,” Nelson says. “Because the NCUA self-assessment includes a board section, and we viewed that tone at the top as critical.”

The agency provides ongoing feedback on the progress credit unions are making with DEI. “They're responsive with this survey and they listen to participating credit unions, which is why I always encourage credit union friends to participate in this survey,” Nelson says.

“It opens the door for a much deeper and thoughtful conversation,” Nelson adds. “Credit unions have been about people helping people for more than 100 years. This is about helping all people.”