From the time I started my credit union career as a front-line employee, to when I joined CUNA Mutual Group as an intern 20 years ago; serving the greater good has given me a personal sense of pride. And that’s something we talk a lot about in our industry: pride.
We’re proud to be different – the financial movement that has always placed people before profit. We’re proud of our legacy – one of social and financial equity. And we’re proud of our founding cooperative principles that enable us to collaborate in ways our competitors cannot fathom.
In June, the word ‘pride’ will take on an additional meaning for millions across the world. For countless credit union colleagues and members, friends and family, it will symbolize authenticity, dignity, and the inherent right LGBTQ people have to achieve their life ambitions and pursuit of love and happiness.
Pride Month is an opportunity to come together and honor our achievements in equity, rights, and awareness, but also to build momentum for the long journey ahead. We cannot confine accepting our diversity and embrace the strength in our differences to only one summer month each year. To create positive, lasting change, it’s something we must publicly stand for every day.
At CUNA Mutual Group we have a strong set of values that shape our decision making, but we recognize that for us to be the best employer for our people and the best partner and provider for those we work with, we must continually seek to improve.
An aspect we are actively working on is how we support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. How we empower our people to be who they truly are, not who they think we want them to be. One way we do this is through our Employee Resource Groups (ERG) – teams of colleagues advocating for specific interests, communities or needs. Of course, our ERGs are as diverse as we are covering age, disabilities, gender, professional focus, race and ethnicity, and, of course, sexual orientation and identity.
As the chair of Prism – our LGBTQ ERG – I’m personally very proud (there’s that word again) to work for a company that values broad backgrounds and perspectives, and encourages its employees to embrace them.
To mark the start of Pride Month, we will raise a rainbow flag on June 1 to publicly demonstrate our support for an inclusive LGBTQ work environment. We will share information with our fellow colleagues throughout June to increase awareness of both LGBT concerns and provide our allies opportunities to visibly show their support for an inclusive work environment. But further still, we will encourage our business leaders to better understand LGBTQ consumers and think of the impact we could have in the community with new products and services for credit unions and their members.
What are the challenges our LGBTQ friends and loved ones are experiencing? What are the needs that traditional financial institutions cannot, or unfortunately sometimes will not, provide?
I hope that throughout June, credit union colleagues nationwide will ask themselves these same questions, and challenge one another to seek an answer. Our credit union movement’s founders sought to serve those who would not be served elsewhere. Let’s make them proud.