Minority households: A key factor for the future of credit unions

If you are anything like me, you often brag about how amazing credit unions are and you enjoy sharing member stories of how you were their shining light during a financial hardship. You pride yourself in serving underserved communities, in helping members that big banks turn away and predatory lenders heavily target. You believe in the ability to improve people’s lives with the help of accessible financial products, services, and financial education. You eat, sleep, and breathe the “people helping people” mantra.

Although a single credit union can be small compared to a big bank, collectively, we (credit unions) are a force to be reckoned with! The Credit Union National Association reported that credit unions provided about $12.9B in direct financial benefits to members during a twelve-month period ending in June 2019 and we continue to strive for higher levels of positive impact amongst members.

Industry partner, Filene, has been a great proponent for serving underserved and underbanked communities with their Reaching Minority Households Incubator, which has allowed members such as, Sara, Point West Credit Union member who had no credit history or social security number, to obtain a small loan to help launch her business with the help of the ITIN lending program. Kenia Calderon, Client Relations Director at Coopera, also obtained an ITIN loan to pay for her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application. Through the DACA program, Kenia was able to obtain a legal work permit and she has since helped pave the way and continues to provide a voice for others like herself. These pilot programs are proven testaments that credit unions are looking beyond traditional business practices to serve minority communities that have been underserved or underbanked for too long. This a great step forward towards diversity, equity and inclusion amongst credit union members.

Now ask yourself this, are we truly focusing on diversity, inclusion, and equal representation of our minority members? Do our credit union leaders have a high level of understanding of minority households and their current needs? When you walk into your credit union’s board meeting, an industry conference, or event, can you visually see representation of minority groups? If your answer is no or you are unsure, then perhaps you would agree that this is a matter we must address.

The demographics of the nation have changed significantly over the last decades. In 1970, the United States Census Bureau reported a 16.5% minority population, whereas, in 2010 that percentage increased to 36.3%. The current population projections predict a 50.1% minority population by the year 2042. With demographics shifting towards minorities being the majority in the upcoming decades, credit unions can gain a competitive advantage over banks by continuing to foster relationships with minority households and communities, in both membership base and representation in leadership positions.

Credit unions such as Border Federal Credit Union in Del Rio, TX and Hope Credit Union in Jackson, MS serve minority communities and equally represent minorities in their leadership and board positions. Both credit unions continue to show strong growth over the years in both their financials and member impact and they also continue to build strong relationships in the minority households and communities they serve. So, how can we follow the examples these two credit unions have set? How can we deepen our relationships with minority households and communities? How do we acquire a more inclusive and diverse workforce and leadership team?

Below are some resources available in the industry that may help with answering these questions:

If our industry can continue to develop relationships with underserved minority households and communities, tailor more products and services to meet the needs of minorities, and take a constructive approach on diversity and inclusion in both our workforce and our credit union leaders, our industry will gain a competitive advantage and be able to leverage this in the future when the demographics shift. Taking action now on any of these may be the deciding factor on whether or not your credit union will succeed in the future.

Mayra Alcaraz

Mayra Alcaraz

Mayra Alcaraz is the Marketing Data Analyst at Farmers Insurance FCU, headquartered in the Greater Los Angeles area but serving members throughout the nation. She has a background in accounting, ... Web: https://www.figfcu.org Details