It is vital for credit unions to seize the moment and open their doors to the underserved, removing barriers to equitable access to affordable credit, according to panelists participating in a breakout session at the 2021 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.

Samira Salem, CUNA’s vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, says DEI is vital for three reasons:

  1. It’s in the credit union “wheelhouse.” DEI serves credit union values and missions. “We are better organized than other financial institutions to serve the underserved,” Salem says.
  2. It’s a business imperative. DEI helps credit unions perform, grow, and stay relevant in a quickly changing marketplace. Salem cites research from CUNA Mutual Group that shows 61% of credit union growth comes from people of color. “If credit unions are going to better serve these groups in the future, we need to ensure that our doors are wide open,” Salem says. “That means being intentional about DEI.”
  3. It’s vital to advocacy. Ryan Donovan, CUNA’s chief advocacy officer, says policymakers at local and national levels closely monitor how financial institutions serve underserved communities. “Their ultimate goal is to ensure that everyone has access to equitable, safe, and affordable financial services,” Donovan says.
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