NWCUA DEI Task Force Releases Report with Recommendations, Best Practices

A reposted Article from CU Today

SEATAC, Wash.— The Northwest Credit Unions’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force recently came together to recommend best practices for credit unions looking to advance their DEI work as employers, financial institutions, and community partners.

According to the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) and Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF), 26 members of the task force, representing credit unions from varied asset sizes and geographic locations, have been meeting over the past year to identify actionable strategies. In its work, the task force reviewed case studies from around the nation and here in the Northwest, the NWCUA said.

“The task force worked tirelessly to discover, review, and discuss the most effective DEI-related tools, practices, and resources available,” said Troy Stang, NWCUA president and CEO. “The recommendations celebrate the work credit unions have done and are doing to holistically serve their members and communities.”

The NWCUA noted that as the task force was working, the country was focused on racial equity, which it said served as both a backdrop and an inspiration for the entire body of work. Recognizing that DEI practices are unique to each credit union and community, the recommendations encompass race, religion, gender, sexuality, age, and historically disadvantaged groups, according to NWCUA.

NWCUA Report‘Long-Term’ Journey

“Members of the task force recognize that DEI work is a long-term, non-linear journey,” said Sharee Adkins, NWCUF executive director and a liaison to the task force. “An effective commitment to DEI advances in stages and every credit union should determine its own path, desired outcomes, and timeline.”

The NWCUA and NWCUF boards issued a joint resolution in support of the task force’s recommendations, encouraging “…Northwest credit unions to utilize these recommendations in their ongoing and unique journeys to advance DEI initiatives as employers, financial institutions, and community partners.”

Recommendations for Credit Unions as Financial Institutions

The task force recommendations provide insight into pathways to serve members and consumers who could benefit by becoming members, according to the NWCUA.

“With their not-for-profit, cooperative DNA, credit unions are uniquely positioned to understand and meet the financial needs of all people,” said Carmen Vigil, task force liaison and NWCUA’s AVP-member engagement. “The products and services they offer can help people achieve key milestones in their lives.”

Recommendations for Credit Unions as Community Partners

The task force recommendations note that, “strong relationships with community organizations can help credit unions deepen community engagement in support of their mission.” These relationships could help credit unions better understand the unique issues impacting the communities they serve. Community organizations can connect those they serve to credit unions that could make a difference in their lives.

Several Northwest credit unions’ community strategies are featured as case studies in the recommendations, the NWCUA said.

Online Resources and Ongoing Programming

As a result of the Task Force’s work, the NWCUA said a “robust online” DEI Resource Library was created, and NWCUA and NWCUF are committed to hosting and adding to it regularly. The DEI Resource Library is a hub housing a link to the full recommendations, research, case studies, and other collateral, according to the organization.

Recommendations for CUs as Employers

Among the Recommendations in the Report for credit unions as employers:

  • Conduct organizational benchmarking and provide leadership education
  • Commit staff time to ongoing DEI work
  • Develop an Employee Resource Group program or a cross-functional team to empower and support communities within your credit union
  • Encourage cultural competency
  • Audit hiring and promotion processes to ensure diversity and equity in policy, process and practices.
  • Proactively connect employees from historically marginalized communities to development opportunities the credit union offers to support their growth, promotion and retention
  • Provide DEI training for hiring managers and recruiting staff, including implicit bias awareness training and interviewing best practices
  • Develop a plan for attracting, recruiting, and inviting underrepresented talent to join the credit union team

Posted in NWCUA in the News.