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June 18, 2024

How to Enhance DEI At Your Credit Union

Enhance DEI at your credit union

The heartbeat of the credit union movement is driven by the adage of “people helping people.” And this can only fully be upheld by focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As DEI is already engrained in credit union culture, your CU must be committed to this journey, investing in best practices that will drive inclusion. Let’s dive into how to enhance DEI at your credit union and incorporate more inclusive program offerings.

Why Invest in DEI?

It is imperative that your credit union establish a strategy and practices for cultivating inclusiveness for your employees and your members. There are endless reasons as to why DEI is so beneficial for businesses, including:

  • Making better business decisions. A diverse team make-up means more perspectives, viewpoints and experiences, which can lead to breakthroughs in innovation. According to a recent study, inclusive businesses are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
  • Improving recruitment. Attracting top talent can feel like a daunting task, but job seekers may be more likely to apply to a workplace with DEI policies.
  • Attracting new members. You can build your member base and reach a wider audience when you start to better understand the financial/banking needs of your community. Your credit union can build programs, offerings, and promotions around what’s financially important to these individuals you aren’t already servicing.
  • Enhancing member satisfaction. When your membership feels understood and respected, they are more likely to feel pride and loyalty toward their credit union.

How do I enhance DEI at my credit union?

DEI has been front of mind over the past few years, and its importance is not slowing down, with McKinsey & Company researchers believing that “…the business case for DEI was ‘the strongest it has ever been….” While there are many steps you can take to further promote inclusiveness, some of the heavy hitters include:

Diversify Your Board

To ensure that your board is aligned with the demographic make-up of your member base, your board must be diversified. DEI should still be a top priority whenever it’s time to consider a new board member or change operations. Your board is, after all, the face of your organization and should represent the community you serve to the best of its ability.

Diversify Your Talent

Leadership diversity, whether it be your board or management and executives within the walls of the CU, is extremely beneficial. McKinsey & Company researchers “…found that leadership diversity was associated with holistic group ambitions, greater social impact, and more satisfied workforces.”

DEI policies for diversifying your talent will also help break down hiring bias barriers. By aspiring and adhering to a more diverse workforce in your credit union, your CU is more likely to:

  • Bring on superior talent. By hiring outside of your traditional applicant pool, you are less likely to overlook highly qualified candidates that may have been skipped over previously.
  • Boost employee performance, with ethnically diverse companies seeing a 35% higher financial return above respective national industry medians.
  • Improve employee engagement, particularly with the younger workforce, including Millennials.
  • Retain employees. It has been proven that DEI helps to build a happier, safer work environment, and your employees are more likely to stay at a job that they look forward to returning to.

To diversify your talent, your approach to hiring may need to shift, including how you craft your job descriptions, which job hiring platforms you use to promote openings, and standardization of the hiring and interviewing process. A “DEI-centric” hiring process is also only the start. To retain a diverse workforce, your credit union must also be dedicated to cultivating an inclusive culture and workplace environment.

Click here for Revelo’s step-by-step guide to DEI hiring.

Inclusive Community Outreach

Most credit unions participate in a variety of community outreach initiatives every year. Review what you are already doing to see if these initiatives are aligned with a DEI-friendly brand.

  • Does your CU make charitable donations each year? Consider what causes you donate to and how much of the community it impacts. For example, donating to a food pantry is an excellent way to ensure you’re helping a diverse and inclusive segment of your community.
  • Providing volunteer opportunities for your board and staff is another form of ‘giving’ your CU can implement. Simply research community-focused volunteer opportunities and decide what works best for your organization. Additionally, assess the member make-up of your community and determine if there are any charitable organizations that would be aligned with the backgrounds of your member-base. If so, this internal research can act as a jump-off point for identifying volunteer positions.
  • Financial education can help members (and prospective members) from all backgrounds and is a simple yet effective way of advancing inclusiveness. When providing financial education, be sure to include virtual, in-branch, and community initiatives. This will allow you to reach more of your current and future members.

Become ADA-Compliant

Are your customer-facing digital assets ADA-compliant? When you write a blog, build a website, or host a webinar, make sure it’s accessible to everyone. Your website should include features that make it accessible to people with disabilities. Learn more about ADA compliance by clicking here.

Form Inclusive Partnerships

There are several organizations that are known for providing inclusive financial services. Research and see what potential partnerships would benefit your credit union’s needs. Some examples of DEI and credit union-centric associations include the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC), and inclusiv.

Implement Inclusive Programs

In addition to having a diverse and inclusive staff and board of directors, you can enhance DEI even further by incorporating programs built specifically for inclusivity.

  • The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is an organization that helps credit unions become HUD-approved counseling agencies. By partnering with this federation, your CU can help members become first-time homebuyers and provide the knowledge, skills, and preparation needed to be successful homeowners.
  • As an additional resource, The National Credit Union Administration has created the ACCESS Initiative, where CUs can gain insight on how to improve financial inclusion further.

Enhancing DEI initiatives at your credit union should be an ongoing commitment and will assist you in fully serving your community. The need for DEI, along with its transformative capabilities, will continue to remain, meaning that investing in it for the long-term will stay advantageous to your credit union, your members, and your community.

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