Next Generation Board Members — Representing Your Members

By Andy Roquet, Sr. Executive Benefits Specialist for CUNA Mutual Group

It’s no secret that companies who intentionally diversify their workforce may become more effective and more importantly innovative. Reflecting and representing diverse customer bases within a company may lead to a deeper understanding of customer needs through a diversity in thought.

With a 276% increase, the Multicultural population has changed considerably in the last 10 years.¹ Now is the time for credit union leaders to assess their current board, be honest with their self-assessment and make the changes to represent the community they serve in their own board.

How You Can Help Diversify Your Board

How will your credit union be intentional with diversifying your board members to reflect the customers you serve? Read how current credit union board members are helping their companies create diverse credit union boards, and the benefits that come from these changes.

Credit union leaders might be wondering where do I start? There are two critical actionable steps credit union leaders can take to remove roadblocks of becoming a board member and getting started diversifying their board.

  1. Self and peer assessment of the current culture.
  2. Reviewing what the process is to become a board member.

Read what Stacey Walker, Board Director of XCEL Federal Credit Union, has to say about these two critical steps:

“The culture of the board is very important to assess who are the people sitting around this table and where do they stand when it comes to welcoming new members onto the board? What does that discussion look like? Have you had that discussion, and do you need to have it again, honestly? That would be the first step. The second would be the process of getting onto the board, the more formal process where you get onto the ballots. Many of us have committees and within those committees are gatekeepers where they determine who will be on the ballot without the petition process. Looking at the gatekeeping, the nominations committee, that can be a part of the roadblock for people to get onto the board. If there are younger or newer people who are willing to step up and contribute to the work, then you must let the democratic process take place as it will.”

Once you’ve reviewed these two common roadblocks, credit union leaders should focus on assessing the background of their consumers and communities.

Conduct a Review of Representation

Leaders should ask themselves, “Does our board represent our members and community being served?” If not, there’s work to be done and reviews to be conducted. A good example of a review of representation comes from Michael Maxwell, VP of Strategic Development for Smart Circle International and chairman of SCECU.

“It's looking at your membership and making sure that every aspect of your membership is represented on the board. I know at SCECU, we are critical [of this representation]. We're always doing a membership review, understanding, "Hey, are we lacking? Is our membership changing?" And if it is, "Hey, do we need to change the board? Do we need to change the voices in the room to make sure that everyone's covered, and everyone's included?"

Reviews should consider changes in members, and the importance of continuously reviewing.

One example of member changes comes from CoTrina Matthews, Schoology Coach for Cypress-Fairbanks, and Board Member of Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union. Read her experience within her board and how leadership made it a focus to represent the community they serve.

“When you think about our community, Cy-Fair has shifted vastly to a mostly Hispanic community in terms of numbers. But our board didn't always reflect that. I'm excited about the aggressiveness of our leadership, along with the intentionality of the board to ensure that we have a board that reflects its community.”

Diversity in Thought Could Benefit Your Credit Union

The key benefit of diversifying your board is the diversity of thought. This allows your board to be creative and think out-of-the-box to meet members’ changing needs and where they are in their journey to financial wellness.

¹United States Census Bureau, “Improved Race and Ethnicity Measures Reveal U.S. Population is Much More Multiracial”, August 12, 2021.
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