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  • Ronaldo Hardy

Four Key Points to Creating Your DEIBA Budget

abstract DEIBA budget illustration

Your credit union believes in the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility, and you know you need a DEIBA strategy. How do you ensure that you go about implementing that strategy in a manner that will be effective, worthwhile and a good use of funds?

Developing a specific and multi-phase budget specifically for DEIBA is key. Simply adding funds into existing budgets like recruiting or training is likely to create unfocused and possibly unsuccessful results. A DEIBA journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to be sure your organization is well prepared so it can make it through the entire process.

So how do you begin to create this budget? And how to you get that budget approved? We have four key points to keep in mind.

1. Make it part of your strategic plan

DEIBA as a strategic initiative is the first step to implementing change. If the board and executive leadership recognize that diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility are values that your credit union holds, then you can start looking at what actionable changes your organization can make. Creating a strategy that’s aligned with the executive team’s vision will allow for DEIBA initiatives that are integrated into ALL your operations.

It will also allow you to determine what impact or outcome you’re trying to achieve with each budget expense. Strategic alignment is key because to be successful, the implementation of your DEIBA plan and initiatives must be a multi-year process.

But sometimes, incorporating DEIBA into a strategic plan is a challenge in itself. Be prepared to start at step zero: make your first budget item training or consulting for your credit union’s board and leadership, from an organization or consultant experienced in working at the executive level. Once leadership is fully on board, you’ll be able to integrate DEIBA as a strategic initiative and make a multi-year budget.

2. Assess where you stand

It’s key that you learn where your credit union stands as an organization in its relationship to all the elements of DEIBA. Quality assessments will help you see:

  • The unconscious biases your staff and leadership

  • What your current policies and practices reveal

  • Where change is most needed

  • What efforts to have been made date and to what effect

Getting full buy-in from your staff on your DEIBA initiatives won’t happen overnight. A thorough assessment will prepare you for where you may see resistance and give you insights to help overcome it. An assessment should be thorough, honest, sensitive and informed—and it should allow you to meet people where they are in your next steps.

Your staff needs to feel like even though this journey may involve uncomfortable moments, an initial assessment isn’t designed to make anyone feel judged, criticized or called out. This is why engaging outside help can be crucial.

3. Engage expert consultants

Examining your own organization is difficult – you don’t know what you don’t know, so how can you fully assess and determine what changes are needed? Skilled DEIBA professionals can help you do just that.

A good consultant can:

  • Conduct assessments that set the tone for future initiatives

  • Rework your policies, from HR to lending

  • Help your staff open up and be honest about biases they’ve experienced—or held

  • Create measurable and achievable goals

  • Conduct staff training that meets your staff where they are, and results in tangible changes

Another key benefit of working with an outside consultant is the perspective they can provide. As you make progress along your implementation path, a good consultant can help you spot sticking points or areas of resistance that could slow down your progress or prevent you from reaching your established goals.

The credit union industry is unique, and engaging consultants who know and work in the industry is ideal. The credit union movement’s people helping people philosophy is both a good reminder why DEIBA is a worthwhile goal, and a yardstick to measure your progress. Is your organization living up to the standards of financial inclusion and accessibility that the movement calls for?

4. Partner thoughtfully with your community

DEIBA is about more than just your internal culture; it’s about how your credit union brings those values to your membership and your community and is at the core of that people helping people philosophy.

Partnering with community organizations allows your credit union to really learn and understand about the needs of your community, which can help you design more inclusive products or tailor development services to groups that could benefit the most.

If your current partnerships are not as robust as they could be, consider hosting a community summit with nonprofits, social service agencies or foundations in your area. An event like this can acquaint you with the experiences and of those your community, and therefore the experiences and needs of your members. It’s also an excellent way to create partnerships with organizations and help their clients gain access to capital and financial inclusion.

Tying it all together

Considering these four key points will help you craft a budget that addresses the unique needs of your credit union. When DEIBA is recognized as a strategic imperative and you’ve determined your priorities, you’ll be able to take the long view on the best strategy to achieve your goals. But the specifics of a multi-year plan can be tough to determine on your own. A skilled DEIBA consultant can help you set goals and budgets that will ensure success.


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