Aug 11 2020

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Credit Unions: Approaches, Insights, and Future Directions


This report reviews research findings on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and explores their implications for and application in credit unions. Used effectively, DEI carries the potential to help deliver on credit unions’ mission and values while enhancing performance.

Quinetta Roberson
Quinetta Roberson
Ph.D., John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Management and Psychology
Michigan State University
Report Number 508

Executive Summary

Filene’s Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a five-year research project to explore the changing demographic landscape of the cooperative finance industry and provide evidence-based solutions for tapping into the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion to enhance member financial well-being and credit union success.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Filene has created a Road Map to take stock of your current organizational status, culture, and membership, assess your leadership team’s capacity for change, and consider the available pathways. Take our survey to access the Road Map.

What is the research about? 

The changing landscape of the cooperative finance industry represents an opportunity for competitive advantage within credit unions yet necessitates solutions for leveraging the potential of DEI to fulfill organizational mission and achieve business goals. DEI can bring both benefits and challenges. This report highlights the impact of DEI in and on organizations. Filene Fellow Quinetta Roberson begins by defining key DEI concepts, then explores how the concepts interrelate with each other and identify what impacts DEI can impart on organizations.

Drawing on key performance indicators and governance structures in credit unions, Filene Fellow Quinetta Roberson identifies promising approaches to creating and managing diverse, equitable and inclusive environments in credit unions. The report also discusses how employee differences can be managed and leveraged to drive organizational strategy and goals.

What are the credit union implications?

Given the impact of DEI within and on organizations, it is important to understand how DEI might be leveraged to enhance credit union functioning and performance. Three significant areas for impact include driving market growth, enhancing member experience, and increasing strategic performance.

Research conducted in and through the Center will result in a range of outputs designed to be activated by credit unions and credit union leaders in practice. This report represents an initial output from this Center of Excellence. Future work will include case studies to roadmap various DEI journeys throughout the credit union system; development of a value-based framework for how DEI may help enhance service excellence, growth, and performance; and a system-wide survey to collect baseline data, benchmark the current state of DEI in credit unions, and measure progress.

We welcome the opportunity to partner with credit unions to understand the successes realized and challenges faced in managing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as amplify the strategies, practices, and tools that have proved successful.

Executive Summary