CU Strategic Planning Team Members Graduate DEI Classroom
We are practicing what we preach! Alongside the credit union executives who participated in our inaugural DEI classroom training over six months (which is followed by 6 months of practical application and group work), some of the CU Strategic Planning team joined the cohort.
Upon entering the class, VP of Grant Compliance Christine Duncan explained, “I expected rich sessions of intense learning about DEI subjects, history and how it applies today. And I got that! In addition, we got to have interactive sessions where we worked with other members of the cohort. These were debates, discussion, strategy. All very fun and super interesting to learn how different credit unions work.”
AVP of Business Development Christopher Verdosci added, “My favorite part of the process was learning from the other participants and bouncing ideas back and forth. Each participant brought a unique point of view to the process that I found both educational and inspirational. The culture at CU Strategic Planning embodies both the credit union and DEI philosophies.”
Director of Research and Data Analytics Grace Cale (who happens to have a Ph.D. in sociology), said she was particularly interested in how DEI tied to credit unions and financial services. “Going through the certification class with our clients renewed my faith in the interest of people in any financial industry to address DEI issues! It was wonderful seeing our clients actively engage with this and be willing to openly discuss uncomfortable topics. It definitely reaffirmed my belief that, in general, people want to do right by others and engage in good practices; they really do just need the tools and information to do so.”
Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Co-Owner Ronaldo Hardy launched CU Strategic Planning’s DEI Certification program last year to address the disparities exist in gender, racial and ethnic representation at all levels of our credit union movement.
“I was encouraged to see credit unions diving in to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training and certification,” Hardy said. “It is critical and will set the tone for what individual credit unions and the credit union community stands for in the long term.”
CU Strategic Planning’s certification program is rigorous. The program runs a full year, including six months of intense education and training, and then six additional months of a project to be developed and then implemented in the participating credit unions.
“From the front lines to the board room, credit unions lack representation as diverse as their fields of membership,” Hardy said. “Credit unions cannot truly serve their members and remain relevant without diversifying, providing seats at the table and opportunity for people of all backgrounds to be heard and respected. Reaching other ethnicities must be intentional and requires effective strategies for awareness and recruiting in areas credit unions previously may not have considered.”
To illustrate that point, Verdosci added, “What I was most surprised about was to learn about my own unconscious bias.”
Cale drilled down further into how DEI applies to credit unions specifically. “Marginalized people often don’t have the time to devote to unpaid, volunteer obligations. I think that is an issue that needs focused attention in the middle- and long-terms to solve.”