Credit Unions Can Make a Difference
June 9, 2020
Last week, Northwest Credit Union Association President and CEO, Troy Stang, penned a message to credit union leaders across the region encouraging them to have intentional conversations, listen, learn, and take action against social injustice. Here is that message:
Good Afternoon –
Please join me and others in our Movement to do more to make a difference.
The last week has been, in a word, devastating, for many in our families, communities, and nation. Atrocities have been going on for far too long against Black people, and it is time to put an end to the historic, systemic, and institutional racism toward these human beings.
Thank you to the many credit union organizations who are issuing authentic statements and taking new steps in their stand against racism and any form of discrimination. I have been moved by the demonstrated commitment to speak out against prejudice of any form. It’s time we as a Northwest Credit Union family band together to make this moment a new chapter in our nation’s narrative.
For a moment in time this week, I was at a loss on what I, as a white male, can or should do. I started reaching out to many of our African American friends and colleagues in the Movement. At times I found myself vulnerable and uncomfortable making the calls, not knowing exactly what I should or should not say. But all were so willing to generously share their personal experiences and worries. It occurred to me that my role was to listen and show my friends support. And I found in doing so, each conversation became easier than the previous.
Our friends are hurting, and they are tired. The repeat headlines on the evening news have to stop, and it’s time for everyone to do their part to write a new chapter. If there is one message that has come across loud and clear, it is that words and empathy are not enough – it is time for ACTION.
These perspectives were incredibly informative, and the advice I heard also helped prepare me to lead a discussion in the CUNA Board room this week, which resulted in the Board passing a resolution committing to advance equitable service to Black communities.
And now I attest it’s time for our next steps in the Northwest. I invite you all to be a part of a new chapter as we take action and do all we can to ensure Black people, and all people, are justly treated.
The NWCUA, as an employer, is in the process of taking a deeper dive into diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our journey is unfolding and among many actions yet to be discovered, our path includes having intentional DEI conversations with staff, and the Board, as well as looking at our governance structure.
As your Association that serves credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, we will:
- Take immediate steps with our programing to create the space for this topic and discussion.
- Continue to make space for intentional conversations, just as we did this week in the NWCUA Oregon Government Affairs Committee, which already has sparked new credit union collaboration, community outreach, and discussion. That is just the first step on what will be a long journey.
- Convene credit union leaders regionwide in a DEI Task Force beginning in July, and on an ongoing basis, to research and implement programs that meaningfully engage Black communities, other communities of color, and those who are under-represented in financial inclusion.
- Host dedicated micro-community events, to learn more about DEI, and ensure this topic is at the forefront of credit union culture development.
- Build DEI topics into NWCUA programming, so all credit union employees have access, can learn more, and have a voice in these important conversations in the roles that they serve.
- Dedicate staff resources to support existing member credit union groups who are developing relationships with culturally specific organizations and share their best practices to amplify their work.
I believe these provide some first steps to reinforce our action-oriented commitment as a Movement to drive change in our own communities and families. We can be intentional about our words and our actions to advance our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Credit unions are founded on the “People Helping People” principle and are making a positive difference in the lives of millions of members every day. I hope you join us in a commitment to listening to all voices, learning from each other’s experiences, and inviting more diverse perspectives on our boards, in our management and teams, and in our memberships.
As a leader in this NW Credit Union Movement, I hope I can count on you to join me in this work.
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