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The COVID-19 pandemic took over 2020 and accelerated longstanding racial and economic-based inequalities. Health and financial landscapes diverged along economic and racial fault lines. Add in nationwide agitation and calls for racial justice, and we can see how DEI erupted front and center for our nation, for credit unions and for many of us as individuals. A year after credit unions took a stand for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), what progress has been made? The short answer is that while the ground beneath us has shifted, DEI has emerged as an established feature of the credit union ecosystem.

For their part, credit unions found themselves addressing DEI on two fronts. First, they were prompted by the market to position themselves in relation to civil rights calls for racial justice and calls for greater financial inclusion to address growing inequalities. Second, credit unions were nudged to examine themselves internally, in terms of how their organizations measured up on staff and leadership diversity, the degree of equitable work outcomes, and levels of inclusivity and belonging their work cultures nurtured. Now, one year later, we can begin to assess what progress has been made and what lies ahead.

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