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Racial Justice: The Work Starts With Us

America’s credit unions exist to fix what's broken. They stand for inclusion, financial empowerment and economic opportunity. We will ensure Filene asks the important questions.

In times of strife I seek counsel from big bright minds. Thankfully, Filene is surrounded by these types of individuals including two of our current Research Fellows Professor Quinetta Roberson and Professor Sekou Bermiss. They recommended sharing these insights from Dr. Stephanie Creary, Assistant Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, about what we can collectively do to support our communities in pain and repair broken systems:

Be real

  • Say how you are feeling e.g., tired, appalled, angry, etc. and how others around you are feeling.
  • Say what you understand but also admit what you may not yet understand.

Be compassionate

  • Use the words “Black” and “African American” to describe the people you are talking about and addressing in your statements.
  • Remind everyone that we have been here before; there is a long history of racism, injustice and discrimination in the US – Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and others are recent reminders – Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
  • Recognize that the pandemic we are currently experiencing is disproportionately and negatively affecting these same communities.

Be unapologetic

  • You have employees and customers who are looking to you to speak with conviction about your zero-tolerance policy for racism and injustice.

Do something different

  • Say what you will do in your own company to make sure that your employees and your customers feel safe, welcomed and valued. Start by creating facilitated spaces for people to share how they are feeling and to propose how they think we might do better. But don’t expect your Black/African American colleagues to do all the work. Let them volunteer if they want.

Be supportive

  • The best thing that all organizations can do is to support those who are fighting against racism. This goes beyond embracing diversity, equity and inclusion, but actually support those who are looking to disrupt the status-quo for equality.

As a research organization, we also recommend doing your own learning. Examine some deep thinking around this topic including:

Finally, I want to be clear about where Filene stands on this issue and our commitment to help credit unions think forward to change lives for all communities. Building off of the work that the credit union industry is already doing, Filene has committed to a five-year research project led by Dr. Quinetta Roberson on diversity, equity and inclusion. Investing our time, money, and resources, this Center of Excellence will be looking critically at applying best practices around diversity, equity and inclusion in order to increase diverse representation and advance organizational inclusiveness and equitable outcomes in credit unions and in financial services at large.

Our newest Centers of Excellence on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Consumer Financial Lives in Transition will conduct applied research on diversity, equity and inclusion practices and work to understand the changing financial lives and livelihoods of consumers as they face new forms of economic struggle and financial fragility.

We care deeply about this issue and will ensure Filene asks the important questions. 

Mark Meyer
President + CEO
Filene Research Institute