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I see more and more credit unions boldly advertising in the communities they serve. And while I’m ecstatic that marketers are finally getting their due (and budget!) from the CEO and boards that they report to, I am equally disheartened to see that most credit union branding simply mimics the worst of bank advertising.

It’s not what we are doing, it’s what we don’t show. Credit unions have a proud HISTORY of diversity and inclusion from the very beginning. From founders Ed Filene and Alphonse Desjardins, to the on-the-ground soldiers Louise Herring, Dora Maxwell, North Carolina’s Harriet Morehead Berry and South Carolina’s Esau Jenkins, the PIONEERS of the credit union movement worked very hard to provide women and minorities cooperative financial services. Even during the time when many state credit union leagues refused to allow black credit unions to join, these pioneers fought to provide financial service to all. As Christopher Morris of the NCUF said, “Credit union pioneers like Louise Herring did not view this as a job. It was a cause, a social mission and a torch to carry.”

And while some may call “a conscious focus on minority inclusion in both marketing and hiring” sneeringly “politically correct,” serving ALL is our very reason for existing. And it’s a crying shame so many of our current leaders in the cooperative movement are so stuck in their bank-like mindset and equally foolish to turn a blind eye to the diversified OPPORTUNITIES – in other words PEOPLE – right in front of them.

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