Point West Credit Union Drives Greater Diversity in Volunteer Service Roles
CEO Amy Nelson shares her recruitment strategy to find diverse and highly qualified volunteers for the credit union’s board and supervisory committee.
At a time when interest in diverse and inclusive work environments is growing, Point West Credit Union stands out. With service rooted in equity and inclusion, and a mission that seeks financial empowerment for members, the Portland-based credit union’s operational values have risen to the front of the trend, thanks in part to a new strategy to recruit highly qualified volunteers.
The strategy was started when a mix of attrition and circumstances left the credit union with five board and supervisory committee position vacancies in 2015. Point West leaders took that as an opportunity for change.
“That was when we started efforts to diversify our board and better align it with our mission, which focused on inclusion, serving marginalized communities, and providing access to financial products and services,” Point West President and CEO, Amy Nelson, said. “We wanted to reflect that we were serving a diverse membership at the board level.”
From those efforts, a new volunteer recruitment strategy was born that enabled them to better serve their growing, diverse membership. The credit union began a five-pronged strategy to recruit highly qualified volunteers from diverse backgrounds.
Point West’s leaders expanded relationships with local community partners and nonprofits, all mission-aligned to serve marginalized and minority communities with a variety of career, health, social, legal, and education services.
“Our partners are focused on serving community members who are often denied services from mainstream resources,” Nelson said. “They became key drivers in our recruitment process, recommending potential nominees and recruiting others on our behalf.”
The credit union increased its online presence, further utilizing its Facebook page and website to communicate its goals. It posted a Declaration of Beliefs that stated its equitable and inclusive mission and commitment to members. The message resonated with community members and successfully generated volunteer interest.
In addition, Point West started Member Listening Sessions in 2016 as an avenue for members to share concerns and ideas directly with credit union leadership. The sessions, which are still held regularly, provided a steady stream of interest from members who engaged in these conversations and ultimately stepped up to volunteer.
Applicants were put through a formal recruitment process that included a management interview, a nominations committee interview, multiple conversations, and reference checks with other volunteer organizations with the goal of finding a passionate and engaged volunteer.
“Now we do the recruitment process year-round,” Nelson said.
Also, the credit union collected referrals from current volunteers and credit union executives, and continues to do so today.
As a result, the credit union was able to recruit and vet highly qualified volunteers from diverse backgrounds within months.
“Sometimes you have to figure it out as you go, roll up your sleeves, and get to work,” Nelson said. “We’re excited to be more intentional now, and have meaningful conversations with a diverse board that can help take us to the next level.”
Moving forward, Point West will develop its recruitment strategy further.
“We’ll work with the board and supervisory committee on succession planning through the diversity, equity, and inclusion lens and start discussions on implementing a board policy,” Nelson said.