Oct 14 '20

Diversity Awareness a Key Ingredient for Our Cooperative Principles

Paul Dionne
Paul Dionne
Research Project Manager
Filene Research Institute

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month and diversity awareness is an important first step, and one that is always worth revisiting no matter how far along we are on our DEI path.

Paul Dionne
Paul Dionne
Research Project Manager
Filene Research Institute

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month—a month to raise awareness about the diversity of cultures and ethnicities that make up our communities. For those of us making our way along our individual and collective DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) journeys, diversity awareness is an important first step, and one that is always worth revisiting no matter how far along we are on our DEI path.

We will realize our cooperative principles more profoundly when we witness and acknowledge the richness of perspectives, cultures, and lived experiences that people bring with them.

Diversity awareness is also a key ingredient to activating our cooperative principles more widely and equitably. If we want our organizations to be open and accessible to all, we need to understand all of those who could potentially join. We will realize our cooperative principles more profoundly when we witness and acknowledge the richness of perspectives, cultures, and lived experiences that people bring with them.

In honor of Global Diversity Awareness Month, Filene is curating some brain food to help broaden your awareness of the many forms of diversity around us. Recall some diversity is plainly visible while other forms are less obvious. With increased awareness comes the ability to better recognize the potential, the opportunities, and the challenges that diversity brings to help us advance our credit union mission. Take a read, bask in a podcast, or watch an event. Then, go out and share your findings with a friend or colleague. My best lessons and insights always seem to come from dialogue where I listen deeply enough to be changed by the perspective of another.

Take stock of your current organizational status, culture, and membership, assess your leadership team’s capacity for change, and consider the personal, operational and organizational pathways through this road map.
Review insights from experts in DEI and credit union and system leaders as they strive to improve their organizations by making them more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive.
Filene Fellow Dr. Quinetta Roberson provides three key ways your leadership can foster a sense of inclusion among your team members.
Review research-based recommendations for improving board composition, including formalizing recruitment and evaluation to help credit unions improve board diversity.
Learn more about the role credit unions can play in improving the financial well-being of minority households.
Inclusion is the secret ingredient to service excellence during a time that we see the disproportionate harms that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to inflict on the vulnerable, marginalized and minoritized.
Expand your current lending program to include Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) loan programs to reduce financial vulnerability in the short-term and activate greater impact in the long-term.
Take some time to listen to academic experts and thought leaders from within the credit union industry as they dive into opportunities to create a more diverse, more inclusive, and more equitable world for credit union members.
Visit the CU DEI Collective and see if your organization has taken the pledge.

Understanding the diversity of approaches that people bring to our social, economic, and yes even our political worlds would help us come together more effectively in the spirit of cooperation and mutual support. Expanding our awareness of the diversity around us is the first step to creating a world that is more respectful, more inclusive, and more equitable. Take some time this month to broaden your horizons. Endeavor to build your diversity awareness each day, month, and year. Follow with action steps that better recognize and include the diversity around you.