Northwest Credit Unions Show Support for Diverse Communities

Credit unions are built to support diverse communities. As not-for-profit cooperative financial institutions, their “People Helping People” mission extends to folks of all races, social and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations.

Throughout June, Northwest credit unions made their allyship to the LGBTQ+ and Black community known through powerful statements and impactful action.

In celebration of Pride Month, cooperatives across the region shared clear messages of support inside their lobbies, on their websites, and on social media. Several credit unions, including Verity and BECU, both based in Seattle, flew Progress Flags at their branches. An adaptation of the original Pride symbol, the Progress Flag includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with the colors pink, light blue, and white — the colors of the transgender flag.

In a statement to members, TwinStar Credit Union, headquartered in Olympia, shared the operational changes it has implemented to actively address diversity, equity, and inclusion, including removing binary gender wording, addressing misgendering and microaggressions, inviting employees’ preferred pronouns, implementing DEI and LGBTQ+ training for all managers, and more.

“At TwinStar, we strive to make everyone feel welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression,” said President and CEO Jeff Kennedy. “Creating safe and welcoming spaces for our employees, members, and communities is built into our mission.

Gesa and Advantis credit unions showed support for these communities by donating to LGBTQ-focused nonprofits, such as The Space LGBTQ Youth Center in Yakima, PFlag Benton & Franklin chapter, Bremerton’s Q Youth Resources, the Q Center in Portland, the AIDS Foundation, and others.

Highlighting real people and their stories, First Tech Federal Credit Union featured LGBTQ+ and BIPOC individuals on its social media pages, such as Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing and who now uses her platform to shine a light on marginalized storytellers. Also featured was First Tech employee, Moriaa, and their beautiful family.

“Being in an LGBTQ+ family is no different from any other,” said Moriaa in the Twitter post. “Our family is made from and with love, to the world we are two women. To our daughter we are her two moms.”

The Young Credit Union Professionals of Portland (YCUP PDX) once again teamed up with the Cascadia Chapter of Credit Unions to launch a Pride Month fundraiser benefiting Portland’s Q Center. The groups pledged to match all donations up to $1000.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, or Jubilee Day, celebrates the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Black Americans who had been enslaved in the United States were finally liberated.

Though it was not recognized as a legal public holiday until June 17 of this year, several Northwest credit unions shared they’d be closing in observance of Juneteenth, including BECU, CapEd, Clackamas, TwinStar, Verity, WSECU, and others.

“Making strides toward greater racial equity happens in multiple steps and multiple ways,” said Ann Flannigan, Vice President of Public Relations at WSECU in Olympia. “We believe one piece of this is thoughtfully recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday at the credit union.”

Some credit unions celebrated Juneteenth by elevating the history of Black people in America, sharing resources and historical context with thousands of their members online. BECU uploaded a blog titled “The Financial Significance of Juneteenth,” which sheds light on the financial inequities and barriers to wealth Black people have faced throughout history. Forrit Credit Union published a Juneteenth FAQ explaining the significance of the holiday and listing suggestions on how members can celebrate.

When it comes to the multi-faceted, diverse, and vibrant communities they serve, credit unions have one goal: promoting financial well-being for all.

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Posted in CU Difference.