Benefits of a Diverse Credit Union Board of Directors


Diversity is something every business and governing body can benefit from. Diverse groups can offer more creative and innovative solutions, and they consider more perspectives that groups with similar members in terms of age, race, religion, education, and background may not. But what does that mean for your CU? Let’s discuss the benefits of a diverse credit union board of directors.

Your board of directors plays an integral role in creating and managing initiatives that sustain and grow your credit union as a business. Your board is also the place innovation goes to thrive – or die. That’s why diversity is even more important when it comes to creating sustainable innovation within your credit union.

The Role Diversity Plays in Creating an Innovative Board of Directors

Recently, there was an academic article that published findings directly related to the importance of diversity on boards of directors’ effectiveness and its impact on innovation. According to the study, the “systemic understanding of market trends, value chain developments, and consumer or customer needs are some of the factors that contribute” to the success of a business.

In order to maintain that understanding of market trends and change factors, it’s important that you have a wide array of voices and experiences represented on your credit union board of directors.

And in recent years, the board of directors has come to not only help guide the strategy, high-level structure, and leadership appointments in a business. It has also taken on the role of establishing structure and guidance when it comes to company culture, sustainability, and ethics.

Because innovation isn’t just one thing, it’s a hard metric to study. But the academic article we are mentioning here underscores the idea that innovation can only truly thrive as an “attribute of organizations” – a core tenant of your credit union’s business dealings – where there are many different perspectives working together to find the best solutions and growth opportunities.

Benefits of a Diverse Board

Other than driving innovation, there are many benefits to creating a diverse credit union board of directors.

First, it positively affects the community at large. Credit unions are built for serving the communities they operate in. And that means your board needs to be at least as diverse as the communities you’re serving. Every community is different. Certain communities are more blue-collar, urban, Hispanic, or Jewish, for example. Creating a board of directors that is made up of voices and perspectives that can understand the true needs of the community your credit union serves is a great way to ensure certain demographics aren’t completely alienated by the initiatives you are putting in place.

For example, in and around the town of Berne, Indiana, there is a large Amish community. So, if you are trying to reach all of the diverse communities within your region to lower the barriers to entry on your services, offering Spanish is a great start.

But your board of directors should also think about including Pennsylvania Dutch (the language spoken by many Amish communities in Indiana and the USA) as a language or interpretation option on your materials.

Initiatives like this can help create opportunities for your credit union better serve and build trust within certain marginalized groups that are looking for your products and services. And that is a core component of fostering business growth for your credit union.

Focusing on diversity can also open your board of directors up to opportunities regarding non-traditional talent. If your entire board is made up of seasoned financial advisors and other banking-specific professionals, you are likely losing out on great opportunities.

Including board members who are local small business owners, online marketers, or other strategic and operational professionals can help create more well-rounded and well-received initiatives for your credit union.

Ways to Foster Diversity in Your Board of Directors

There are many ways to foster diversity in your credit union board of directors.

One easy way is to include young professionals already involved in your credit union’s work. You will get the dual benefits of having younger voices and perspectives in the discussion, while simultaneously training the next generation of board members on the strategies and insights that are necessary to keep your credit union innovative.

In that same vein, you should be hiring people with diverse backgrounds to join your credit union staff.

You can also tweak the size of your board to be able to reflect more diverse communities. The goal should be to create a board of directors that mimics the diversity of the community you are working in. If the community is 65% white, 12% aged 65+, 38% blue-collar, or 40% Black, your board should reflect that.

Another great way to diversify your board of directors is to evaluate each member’s effectiveness and participation. Increase transparency and publicity surrounding board nominations and elections, too.

For more great resources on fostering diversity within your credit union board of directors, check out the National Credit Union Association’s (NCUA) Diversity and Inclusion page.

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How to Hire Credit Union Employees in 2021


2021 is the year of the employee. In the current job market, hiring and retaining entry-level – and even management and other professional-level – employees is a struggle. This has become a trend for a few reasons. So how do you hire credit union employees in 2021? We have collected some resources and tips for you.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a lot of US government aid being passed out to workers who had been laid-off or found themselves unemployed as a result of shutdowns and government shelter-in-place mandates. And secondly, the pandemic also shed light on many Americans’ priorities, causing them to leave certain jobs to focus more on searching for more fulfilling or career-driven opportunities. 

Guerrilla Strategies for Finding Talent

Right now, 42% of business owners surveyed by the National Federation of Independent Business said they have job openings they could not fill. CUManagement recently published an article that outlines five guerilla tactics for finding employees in a tough market.

  1. Become a sales team. CUManagement says, “Your human resources department needs to start functioning as a sales team.” Create a prospect list – you can even include former employees who you’d like to have come back into the fold. Recruiting should always be a priority, even when you are fully staffed. Things are changing much more rapidly for employers these days, and you want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to hiring.
  2. Engage your team. Some of your best recruiting opportunities are just one degree of separation away. Your employees are the best resources for finding reliable talent in the area. You can encourage, or even incentivize them, to help find new hires. And don’t forget to listen to them: they have the first-hand experience of your hiring process, and they likely have some great insights into the areas you can improve to attract more or better prospects.
  3. Spotlight your culture. Job applicants are looking for a place where they enjoy working. The more you showcase that in your advertising channels – social media, websites, job descriptions, etc. – the more prospects will want to engage with your credit union.
  4. Get outside the box. Your list of requirements for any given position should not be a hard and fast standard by which you judge every applicant. If an applicant has little in the way of credit union experience but may have other supplementary experiences that could speak to their ability to learn how to successfully do the job you need, it’s good to consider them for at least an interview.
  5. Clarify your purpose. Your credit union’s purpose can be the tipping point for applicants. Just like your culture, your business’s purpose should be evaluated to reflect your commitments to specific non-profits and the community you serve. This philanthropic focus can show your prospect pool that your business is serious about its mission.

Address Current Concerns

CareerPlug’s article on changing the way you hire in 2021 deals with some harsh truths.

The first thing you have to compete with is the historically low wages that certain industries have been paying people in the past, which won’t work for many job seekers – because they hold most of the power in this labor market.

If you are firm in the wages you want to pay for your open positions, you could consider adjusting other compensation packages or benefits. For example, schools and childcare disruptions have caused many women to pivot from looking for work to being stay-at-home moms for the time being. Having options available or expanding childcare services to your staff could gain your credit union a lot of traction and engagement with women who have young children.

Another hot topic is remote work – many employees found out in the last year that the jobs they’ve been told must be done in the office are actually able to be done remotely. This flexibility has quickly become a standard discussion point in new hire negotiations.

And don’t forget – the global pandemic is still very serious and scary for many people. Concerns of cleanliness and updated sick time policies are worth mentioning in your open position descriptions.

Help Employees Manage from Anywhere with Virtual Desktops

Virtual desktops and apps enable your credit union to deliver virtual workspaces to end-users – including full Windows client desktops, shared desktops, and hosted apps – as a monthly subscription service.

Contact IMS for more information.

5 Ways to Increase Member Service Representatives’ Productivity

Increasing the productivity of your Member Service Representatives is crucial if your credit union is aiming for significant growth. Not only are your employees the face of your financial institution, they are also the foundation that ensures your front-end operations are always running smoothly. Take a look at ways you can make your MSR’s more productive without overburdening them with too many responsibilities: 

Promote a work environment that is non-toxic and rewarding

Every credit union wants MSR’s to treat members with exceptional patience, empathy and friendliness. Staff should also readily inform members of additional services that can upgrade their current relationship with your credit union. To create this customer-oriented experience, it’s imperative that MSR’s are also treated with the same respect and provided with relevant development opportunities. When work is enjoyable, MSR’s will also enjoy serving and attending to member concerns. 

Be clear with your expectations

From the start, limit your expectations to MSR’s job descriptions. They are often the face of your institution and need comprehensive understanding of your products and services, as well as the exceptional personality to match. Though staff often take on multiple responsibilities, please don’t expect them to do tasks beyond their job functions. This can lead to resentment and an overwhelming feeling of being overworked.

Ensure they have the necessary training and tools

Credit union technology is constantly evolving and adopting new innovations is important to keep up with the industry. Not only is it necessary to always update software, but we also have to stay updated on the needed knowledge of how to run it. Staff should be trained and comfortable with the technology you’re currently using. If they need help, they should also know where to go for assistance. Many vendors and tech partners offer comprehensive customer support and documentation where MSRs can learn the ropes.

Establish SMART goals

Once staff know your expectations, you should always give them a way to measure their progress against your expectations. It’s not enough to tell them they’re doing well. They should know which actions contribute to their progress, how what they do affects their performance, and what they’re measured on. Set SMART goals, or goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. If they meet these goals, don’t forget to show recognition! Staff who feel appreciated for their efforts will more often than not strive to work even harder.

Allow them to take actual breaks

The truth is that most of the time, taking a break from work can lead to more productive days. This is especially true for jobs that are customer-facing, like that of your MSR’s. Aside from scheduled breaks, don’t forget to encourage them to take vacation days off. 

One of the strongest advantages of credit unions is the personalized attention that members rarely get from bigger financial institutions. When you support your staff and give them the tools they need to increase their productivity, your team, your members and your business will be better for it.

Are Your Employees Suffering from SAD?

The winter months can be difficult for many, regardless of where they live. Shorter days often mean leaving for work while it’s dark, and returning home in the same way. Spending most of the daylight hours indoors can lead to feelings of constant fatigue and depression. This seasonal-specific condition is known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Psychology Today estimates that about 10 MILLION people in the U.S. suffer IMS We Know Credit Unionsfrom this condition, which is actually categorized as a form of depression. The severity of symptoms can differ from person to person, but the most common include:

  • Mood swings
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Indifference

While there are many resources that discuss how individuals can deal with SAD, what do you do when you’re worried about your workforce as a whole? Wellness in the workplace needs to incorporate mental wellness into ongoing employee programs. Most of the common suggestions can apply to the workplace, too. Modifying them to accommodate the workday isn’t difficult, and it will help boost the morale – and well-being – of employees.

Get Outside!

Encourage employees to get outside for a walk, lunch break, or to get a coffee. Just being outdoors will boost spirits and increase energy.

Seasonal depression in the workplaceLet the Sun Shine In!

Allow for natural sources of light, where possible. Open blinds and curtains to let the natural light inside. Consider options such as floating desks, for those employees who tend to be tucked away from the natural light sources.

Offer Flexible Work Options

When possible, allow employees to alternate coming in and leaving early. This can allow for employees to enjoy daylight hours before or after work, increasing mood and well-being, which equals increased productivity.

Provide Healthy Food & Drink Options

If coffee is available to employees, consider offering a variety of herbal teas as well. Make fresh fruit available, or other healthy options. You don’t have to take away coffee and pizza Fridays, just make additional options available!

While the symptoms of SAD usually begin to diminish as the days get longer and the temperature warms, those with more constant and severe symptoms should see their healthcare provider for additional treatment options.

How do you keep morale up and employees engaged during the winter months?  Share!