If the active, enthusiastic participation at the African American Credit Union Coalition Annual Conference is any indicator, the “people helping people” credit union philosophy is not only alive, it’s on overdrive. At the conference, held recently in Charlotte, N.C., more than 300 credit union professionals gathered to share ideas to foster member financial wellbeing and leverage the power of diversity and inclusion to strengthen the global credit union movement.
To maintain this momentum and advance the “people helping people” philosophy, it is important for organizations across the industry to embrace the power of partnerships and understand the importance of coming together to address some of the industry’s leading opportunities and challenges.
Strategic partnerships can not only provide different strengths and capabilities, but also diverse opinions that make it possible to reach specific objectives. For example, in our space, smaller organizations can lean on larger organizations for resources and support or to reach a broader audience, while larger organizations can utilize the feedback and input of smaller groups to ensure their goals and initiatives are inclusive and beneficial for all. From partnerships created among internal groups to larger relationships between big businesses, harnessing this power can be valuable for all partners and lead to influential changes and achievements.
At the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), we have experienced the powerful impact partnering with like-minded organizations can have on our group firsthand. The AACUC was created to increase diversity within the credit union community through advocacy and professional development. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization recognizes the differences and distinctions of each individual, group or organization that are represented in society and within the credit union movement, and it welcomes any and all of these entities as members in furtherance of its mission to strengthen the global credit union movement.
Throughout 2019, the AACUC worked with PSCU, the nation’s premier payments CUSO, to launch a brand new initiative – the Women’s Power Series, which was created to cultivate and connect a network of professionals who champion women’s leadership and ongoing contributions to the evolution of the credit union industry.
The partnership between the AACUC and PSCU was established as a result of the National Credit Union Foundation’s Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) Program, which gathers credit union industry executives for experiential training to promote the education and application of credit union business principles and philosophy. During our CUDE training, we saw the need for ways to support AACUC women and other advocates to connect, network and sharpen skills for career progression. As a result, PSCU, a long-time champion of diversity and inclusion issues, stepped in to establish the Women’s Power Series. Through close collaboration, we built the content, promoted and facilitated events, allowing the AACUC to further its mission and continue spreading its message of diversity and inclusivity to a larger pool of potential participants.
Since its launch in April 2019, AACUC and PSCU have hosted two webinars as part of the Women’s Power Series, with more webinars and in-person leadership sessions planned throughout the remainder of the year and into 2020. Attendance for each session has grown steadily – with more than 350 attendees joining the webinars and packed rooms for in-person meetings – and interest continues to increase among AACUC members, PSCU employees, credit unions and other industry organizations.
The Women’s Power Series is a testament to the power of partnerships. Collaboration, teamwork and establishing trusted partnerships are fundamental to strengthening the credit union industry, advancing the credit union movement and empowering employees, members and other players to be part of the change and betterment of the industry.
Co-Authored by: Renée Sattiewhite is the President and CEO of the AACUC. With over 35 years of experience in finance, her background is in training and marketing, specializing in customer service, effective communication, board development and strategic planning. She has been involved with credit unions for over 25 years and was the first Internship Program Director for the AACUC.