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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

More than just words at CUNA

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than just words at CUNA. We recognize that DEI represents the eighth credit union cooperative principle that guides America's credit unions. At CUNA we strive to fully live these principles by deepening our efforts to advance DEI in our workplace and support credit unions on their DEI journey.

We are committed to DEI not only because it aligns with our values and legacy as a movement, but it is the right thing to do, it makes business sense, and it helps us remain relevant in a rapidly changing marketplace.

At CUNA, we are committed to building an authentically diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace where every person feels like they belong, are valued, respected, and can reach their potential. 

We know credit unions thrive when they reflect their communities, promote financial inclusion and equity for their members, and foster financial well-being for all—including marginalized and underserved communities.  

Steps We’ve Taken 

CUNA’s approach to DEI is holistic and consists of a set of internal and external practices. These include bolstering our commitment to DEI, building a culture of inclusion and belonging, embedding DEI throughout our organization, measuring our progress and holding ourselves accountable, and solidifying our role as a DEI champion in the credit union movement.  

Our approach to DEI is also characterized by confident humility—we know we are on the right path, but we are humble enough to know that we don’t know everything, and we strive to learn, grow, and do better daily. 

  • CUNA’s Board of Directors added DEI as the eighth cooperative principle of America’s credit unions

  • We added DEI to our organizational strategy, making it an organizational priority

  • We co-created a holistic DEI Strategy, including a DEI mission, vision, and set of goals  

  • We regularly measure our progress through staff surveys and analysis of staff representation  

  • We conducted a baseline assessment of our culture and our policies and practices to identify bias, and better support our DEI commitment  

  • Here are some of the ways we are centering employee voice and diverse perspectives: 
    • We created a cross-enterprise 12-person DEI Advisory Group, which meets regularly to review and guide our DEI efforts. 
    • We launched an ERG program two years ago and now have six ERGs whose members represent more than 60% of CUNA staff.
  • We established Inclusive as a core CUNA value. Our employees defined Inclusive as "We strive—every day—to create a workplace where everyone feels they belong, are respected and valued."

  • CUNA leadership and staff are expected to demonstrate our core values, including Inclusive, daily. Everyone is held accountable via their performance evaluation.  

  • In 2021, 100% of staff and leadership completed 5+ hours of foundational training on DEI designed to provide everyone with the same frameworks and language. As new staff onboard, they are also required to take courses on the same topics. Topics included Facing Bias, Microaggressions, and Creating an Inclusive Organizational Culture.

  • In 2022, we launched an in-depth 12-hour Allyship in the Workplace workshop series for staff and leadership.  

  • In addition, our DEI Advisory Group members completed CUNA Mutual Group’s Inclusion Institute Workshop series.  

  • Hold DEI book clubs, which are open to all staff, to support continued DEI learning.

  • We launched our annual CUNA DEI Big Read in 2022. As part of the DEI Big Read, we selected a book focused on DEI themes for the entire organization to read, we held Big Read book clubs and invited the author to talk about their book at our end-of-year all staff event.

  • In 2023, we launched monthly Conversation and Clips, which are small bites of DEI education focused on workshopping one topic at a time

  • We hold regular heritage, cultural, and identity-based events to raise awareness and build a culture of inclusion and belonging and create allies across the organization.

  • Our Young Professional ERG initiated monthly "Coffee Connections," where CUNA staff voluntarily schedule a meeting with a colleague they don't know. Coffee Connections is helping us build professional networks, break down siloes, and deepen our culture of inclusion and belonging. Since it started last year, nearly 400 connections have been made.  

  • We are working to embed DEI across the enterprise by consistently using a DEI lens in planning and decision-making. This includes integrating DEI criteria into our annual business planning.  

  • We developed a DEI Lens and are in the process of training staff and leadership on how to use it in decision-making, planning, and budgeting.

  • Co-created a set of ground rules we use at the start of all of our DEI or EEG sessions to create a brave space for folks to participate

  • Co-created a living glossary of terminology and DEI guidelines for the use of images.

  • Created and staffed a DEI Department to lead our efforts internally and externally

And we have much more in the works!

As the largest credit union trade association, CUNA is committed to further empowering the credit union movement's diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives by providing advocacy, training, education, research, and networking opportunities and amplifying the work of system partners and credit unions. 

We are taking specific steps to support credit unions dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, so their workplaces better reflect the communities they serve.

 These include:

  • Advocacy efforts to tell our DEI story to policymakers and regulators and works to remove barriers that hinder a credit union’s ability to foster financial equity and inclusion for all.

  • Thought leadership on DEI via DEI research, DEI eSchools, publications, webinars, and speaking engagements raising awareness and sharing DEI best practices.

  • Developing products and services that support credit unions on their DEI journey (e.g., CPD Online DEI training modules, CUNA’s DEI eSchools, the DEI Roundtable at GAC, and DEI breakouts GAC and other CUNA schools and conferences).  

  • Intentional efforts to increase the diversity of speakers at conferences.

  • Supporting the financial well-being for all initiative

  • Co-founded the Credit Union DEI Collective (CU DEI Collective) and signed the CU DEI Collective Pledge.  

  • Partnerships and alliances with DEI-focused, diversity-centric credit union organizations and networks, and others committed to DEI goals (e.g., CU DEI CollectiveAACUCNLCUPInclusiv, the Leagues, CU PrideCUWLA, and GWLN)
  • Supporting DEI Tuesday at CUNA GAC. DEI Tuesday is a series of events covering how credit unions can expand their work serving and empowering communities of color and other marginalized and underserved groups, promoting equity for all.  

Closeup of multicolored crayons, racial colors, multiethnic concept, macro; Diversity in education

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