OnPoint Supports DEI Work with a Full-Time DEI Program Manager and Program Coordinator
August 10, 2021
Josephine Davis caught the credit union bug while she was still in college 17 years ago, working first in a call center, then as a loan officer and branch manager, and later in other roles in the community banking sector. Her passion for economic, gender, and racial equity led her to a one-year contract with the City of Portland, where she assisted with a workforce and supplier diversity project.
Those qualifications made her the right person for an important job OnPoint Community Credit Union opened earlier this year — the role of DEI Program Manager. Leadership supported her program with another full-time position, a DEI Program Coordinator.
OnPoint’s commitment could benefit not only its employees and members, but perhaps other credit unions as well.
“We realize that having the resources to dedicate full-time employees to advancing DEI work is a huge advantage,” Davis said. “If our program model can help other credit unions, we would be honored to share information, and collaborate with others.”
A Long-Term Commitment
Davis humbly points out that the team at OnPoint doesn’t profess to be experts in this space. DEI work requires a long-term commitment, willingness to learn, and acknowledgment that the program will evolve over many years.
“We’ve been really open about this being a journey,” Davis said. “This is not something we’ve got figured out, but just because we don’t have it figured out, doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do our best to move it forward.”
Currently, OnPoint’s DEI program is focused on these key areas:
- Meaningful opportunities for employees to engage in learning more about historical and current inequities, and how they, as employees, could play a role in creating more inclusive spaces. Participation is not mandatory but is highly encouraged and supported.
- A community partnership strategy that includes financial contributions and opportunities to volunteer for nonprofits, while seeking their input to help inform what products and services would be most relevant to diverse communities.
- A focus on working with vendors owned by veterans, women, and people who identify as LGBTQ+ and BIPOC.
“We are just beginning to unpack opportunities to educate, invite, include, and embrace our membership, employees, and community on inclusion and DEI principles,” said Rob Stuart, President and CEO. “From our Board to our front-line employees, we see this work as integral to the credit union movement. We know that dedicated resources are key to the success of any venture.”
Founded with the “People Helping People” mission, credit unions have long worked to equitably build and inclusively serve diverse memberships. Yet for reasons that may have nothing to do with credit unions, some historically disadvantaged people may not trust the financial services industry.
“Even though we don’t feel like we treat folks differently,” Davis said, “people bring in historical and contextual experiences into interactions and we can’t deny some of them are carrying a really heavy load. We can help lighten that load by truly hearing and seeing others and understanding that sometimes interactions can be complicated because of the very different lived experiences we all have.”
Northwest Credit Unions’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force
Dedicating employee resources to advancing DEI work, is one of the recommendations made by the Northwest Credit Unions’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. Hosted by the Northwest Credit Union Association and the Northwest Credit Union Foundation, the task force focused on identifying actionable strategies that could help to accelerate credit unions’ DEI work as employers, financial institutions, and community partners. Credit unions are encouraged to visit the online DEI Resource Library, a hub housing the task force recommendations, research, case studies, and other collateral.
In addition, an online discussion community is being developed, enabling credit unions to continue to learn and share in a real-time environment.
Upcoming events including MAXX 2021 in Boise Oct.5-7, will feature presentations and breakout sessions that will bring greater insight to DEI and the importance of reaching and serving diverse consumers.
Posted in CU Difference.