I attended a conference where we were encouraged to speak about marketing outside of the box.
We were to come up with ideas outside of the norm and pitch them to the audience.
As I sat with my tablemates, thoughts were being tossed.
Most of which were just safe.
We do that a lot in marketing, don’t we?
We play it safe.
Slow and easy.
Normal and calm.
There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with that, but we must admit that it gets boring, right?
I brought up diversity instantly.
Now when I say this, people instantly go to one thought or another concerning diverse groups.
The umbrella of diversity is large and beautifully colorful.
It has many, many topics.
It isn’t just one.
That fact must be embraced.
In fact, serving ALL is in our very principles and philosophies.
In this instance, I brought up using card at the teller line that could quietly ask a member or potential member their preferred pronouns and if the questions that they had today would be easier to answer in the privacy of an office.
Let’s be honest, there are some conversations that don’t belong on the teller line for the comfort of our members.
We shouldn’t force them to make private conversations public and my idea was simply a way to make it comfortable to say that they would rather speak in a private setting.
The executive gentleman next to me audibly scoffed.
Not just scoffed but shook his head, laughed, and acted completely disgusted by my suggestion.
I continued as if I did not hear his complete lack of respect for not only someone else’s opinion, but the lack of respect for diversity and inclusion itself.
Is saddens me that this is where some are stuck in our industry.
There was a quote that a presenter had at this conference that stated, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change in the inside, the end is near”.
If we continue to let our personal biases determine how we operate and market, we will surely die.
With the big spectrum of diversity that we have in this world, I need to get on a personal soap box for a moment.
Did you know that chunky people buy cars?
We also buy homes and boats and all sorts of things that skinny folks do.
Why don’t you see these body types on posters and ads?
Is it offensive that my jeans are larger than yours?
Will you not get a loan from a credit union that celebrates the purchase a plus sized person made?
Recently we had a back-to-school promotion, and I pictured a student in a hijab on our marketing materials.
A woman came into our campus branch, looked at the poster and said, “That’s me! You represented me. I have never seen that.”
I don’t want to sound sappy, but my heart swelled when I heard her reaction.
People want to be seen.
People want to be heard.
People want to be accepted and most of all respected.
It isn’t our job as a credit union to judge what we think a person should be.
That is no one’s job but the person living that actual life.
Awhile back, I was lucky enough to be on a podcast called The Strategic Hotbox with Dr. Brandi Stankovic.
She had asked me to come on and speak about being a plus sized woman in today’s world.
I was absolutely honored to be asked for my story and received so many messages afterwards thanking me for my bravery.
Although I love those notes, I am just living out loud.
I want others to live out loud as well.
I want to place diversity on my marketing items proudly.
In a perfect world, I want us all to hold hands and sing the song at the end of the Grinch movie in Whoville.
You are hearing it in your head now, aren’t you?
Now I know that will never happen, but that will never stop me from working towards that.
As credit unions we are responsible for not only the financial vibe that we bring to the table, but also the inclusion & diversity vibe.
We are supposed to be the “credit union difference”, remember?
Okay so this soap box was a bit larger than I had thought, but I hope that I have made you think.
Even if just a little.
If you need me, I will be driving around in my new to me vehicle and quite literally celebrating the fact that I work in an environment that not only encourages outside of the box marketing but celebrates who I am, just as I am.
Do the same.
And if you can’t where you are, BE THE CHANGE.