Remix the American Dream so it works for EVERYONE

2020 has been quite a year so far.  How will your credit union respond to recent events to shape its future?  Do you see opportunities?  Years from now, will people look back and see 2020 as a defining moment that helped launch your credit union to a new level of member service and engagement?  

2020 has catapulted many into uncomfortable spaces.  From adjusting to a remote work environment, to scrambling to serve members remotely, to realizing that we all must do more to promote diversity, racial equity, and inclusion.

If your credit union has been hesitant to invest in digital tools, 2020 has been a rude wakeup call.  Members expect their financial institutions to meet their needs without leaving the comfort of their home.  Expectations set during the pandemic aren’t likely to change going forward.  How can you make it easier for members to do business with you?  How can you add value in unique ways?

Diversity, racial equity, and inclusion are part of your credit union’s DNA.  Credit unions were built on community.  And, right now our communities are hurting and feeling fractured.  What steps can you take to help make the American Dream achievable for EVERYONE, especially people of color?

Credit unions exist to engage with their communities and provide them with pathways to financial health.  I encourage you to open your mind and learn more about the challenges faced by people in your communities.  

If you’re struggling with where to begin, consider the following suggestions:

  1. Create and promote a unified approach with your credit union leadership.  Making this visible shows your employees, members and community that you are committed to learning and growing.  It sets up the organization to display vulnerability and act courageously. 
  2. Create ways to listen to people of color in your work force and community.  Listen and evaluate the information without bias or defensiveness.  We all have unconscious bias, so it’s important to recognize it.  At GreenPath, our first step was to engage with our employees.  Our CEO partnered with a black team member to conduct town halls that created a safe space for employees to listen to each other and share experiences.  We also set up confidential listening sessions with our Employee Assistance Plan provider.  
  3. Determine actions you will take.  Don’t feel rushed — listen first and then create meaningful actions you will commit to taking.  Examine your organizational structure, your leadership and board of directors.  Are people of color adequately represented?  Is their voice heard?  Examine everything — your culture, training, policies, processes, marketing and results.  Be honest about where you have fallen short, and how you can do better in the future. 

Everyone’s version of the American Dream is unique.  Let’s remix that dream so it’s truly achievable for EVERYONE.  You and your credit union have a role to play.

Rick Bialobrzeski

Rick Bialobrzeski

Rick is Executive Vice President at GreenPath Financial Wellness, where he has worked since 1996. More than 500 credit unions are partners in GreenPath’s effort to “remix the American ... Web: Details