CUNA outlines plans to confront systemic racism

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The Credit Union National Association is committing to a series of actions in order to increase diversity, equity and inclusion for Black people, communities and those working within the credit union community.

Credit unions and groups from across the industry have begun speaking out against systemic racism since protests swept the nation in June following George Floyd’s death while in police custody. CUNA’s measures, approved by the trade group’s board of directors and included in a report released Tuesday, are the result of a resolution from the board earlier this summer that recognized historic, systemic and institutional racism toward Black people and communities across the U.S.

CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle
CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle

“As tragic events and our national conversation around racial injustice have made glaringly clear, [the industry’s people-helping-people] mission must continue to evolve to ensure that credit unions remain steadfast and accountable in delivering on that mission,” the report reads.

Chief among the board’s recommendations are taking steps to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces, including at CUNA. A press release from the group noted it has added “inclusive” as an internal core value and is putting together a DEI guide to help further that process. The firm also recently appointed Samira Salem to the new position of VP of diversity, equity and inclusion. Many organizations across the financial services sector are taking similar measures.

CUNA also committed to partnering with the African American Credit Union Coalition to better “understand, speak out and support efforts to break down systems that enable racism.” CUNA, AACUC and state credit union leagues have also created a scholarship fund to increase professional development opportunities for Blacks working within the credit union system.

The trade association will also promote DEI as a shared cooperative principle, and the board urged CUNA to explore the trade’s own role in fostering a more inclusive financial system.

The financial services sector has long struggled with ensuring diversity within its workforce, especially among leadership roles. Data from the African-American Credit Union Coalition shows that less than 3% of credit union CEOs are Black. Response rates to the National Credit Union Administration’s annual voluntary credit union diversity self-assessment remain dismally low compared to the relative makeup of the industry.

“CUNA’s work to further invest in diversity, equity and inclusion does not end with the submission of this report,” the paper concludes. “CUNA leadership is committed to creating and fostering opportunities for Black staff within the organization.”

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Diversity and equality CUNA Racial Bias Workplace culture Workforce management