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Filene Launches New Center of Excellence and Welcomes New Research Fellow

Dr. Quinetta Roberson of Villanova University has been selected as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion research fellow.

Filene is proud to welcome Dr. Quinetta Roberson of Villanova University as the research fellow for the Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

Dr. Quinetta Roberson, Villanova University

The Center of Excellence for DEI will be the first of Filene’s six new centers to launch. This five-year research project will be led by Dr. Roberson and tackle challenges in access to both talent and products and services in the financial services industry. Dr. Roberson will build off of the work that the credit union industry is already doing and conduct applied research on DEI practices in credit unions to serve as a model for the larger financial services sector. Dr. Roberson’s research and practice focus on strategic diversity management, inclusion, organizational justice and leadership.

“What I am most excited about is how this fellowship will combine all of my areas of research to help the credit union industry better understand DEI and how it contributes to organizational effectiveness, influences motivation and how it can move the needle from a scholarly practice to a practical perspective,” said Dr. Quinetta Roberson, Fred J. Springer Endowed Chair in Business Leadership and Professor of Management at Villanova University.

The topic of DEI is not new to Filene or credit unions but there is much work to be done. Dr. Roberson brings a fresh perspective to creating compelling research and actionable ideas for the credit union industry. With her leadership and passion, Filene’s new Center of Excellence will focus on:

  • Laying the foundation for industry-wide benchmarking of the current state of DEI in credit unions to accurately measure progress.
  • Bringing cutting edge academic research forward by studying the barriers to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce, workplace, and financial services system.
  • Identifying best practices, establishing playbooks, and building tools and guides to implement best practices.

Generous support for the Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is provided by State Department Federal Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, United Nations Federal Credit Union, UW Credit Union and Xceed Financial Federal Credit Union.

“We are proud to support this Center of Excellence. Adopting diverse, equitable, and inclusive initiatives is an effective way for credit unions to optimize their performance and staff engagement,” said John Lewis, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Affairs for United Nations Federal Credit Union. “We launched DEI business resource groups at UNFCU in 2018 and incorporated DEI in our global sustainability program. The results have been outstanding. We look forward to learning more about DEI practices from Dr. Roberson’s work at Filene.”

Filene members and strategic partners will have a chance to engage with Dr. Roberson at a research event in Philadelphia, PA on September 15 – 16, 2020.

“With Dr. Roberson’s leadership, there is an opportunity to transform how we understand what matters around diversity, equity, fairness and inclusion,” said Taylor C. Nelms, Senior Director of Research at Filene Research Institute. “It is critical to look at diversity, equity, and inclusion from many different angles, including both visible and invisible forms of diversity, from the workplace to the marketplace, in order to increase diverse representation and advance organizational inclusiveness and equitable outcomes in credit unions and in financial services generally. I cannot imagine a better person to lead our efforts to study and advance DEI in consumer and cooperative finance than Dr. Roberson.”

Following the launch of the Center for DEI in January 2020, the Center for Consumer Financial Lives in Transition kicks off and will create applied research with the goal to augment and expand credit unions’ capacity to adapt to consumers’ changing financial lives as they face new forms of economic struggle and financial fragility.

There are four additional research centers launching over the next 18 months. These centers will focus on:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion practices and policies in credit unions
  • Consumers’ changing financial lives and livelihoods, including new forms of work, entrepreneurship and personal finance
  • Best practices in measuring and accelerating innovation and incubation
  • Emerging financial technologies and their effects on business strategy and consumer experience
  • Impacts of financial services on community well-being and the strategic advantages of social responsibility
  • Advancement of credit unions’ capabilities in data governance, management and analytics

“Filene’s approach delivers tangible learnings to improve operations and is essential to the continued success of today's credit unions,” said Paul Kundert, President/CEO, UW Credit Union and Filene Board Director. “The new DEI Center does more than drive positive change; it's a critical step to fostering stronger relationships with members and employees at all stages of life. As an organization, I can't imagine a more productive, necessary way to invest in our future."