Article

From John: Responding to Racism Will Be a Journey

African American, Asian, and Caucasian fists in a circle
John Pembroke Photo
President/CEO
CUES

2 minutes

CUES is in it for the long haul to offer actionable learning about this important and uncomfortable topic.

The mission of CUES is to help credit union leaders reach their full potential. To do this, we provide a host of actionable learning experiences for established and emerging executives and board members. These learning experiences have consistently and purposefully included courses (like this one) and content that help root out racism by teaching such skills as self-reflection, communication and how to identify unconscious bias.

For centuries, racism has been our country’s Achilles’ heel. Racism results in the division of what is supposed to be the United States of America. It adversely impacts our potential as a country.

Not surprisingly, racism is an extremely tough topic to address. As a nation, we’re challenged to find a common lexicon to use to talk about it, identify challenges and promote understanding. To move forward and become a more united United States of America, we’re going to have to have uncomfortable conversations. We’re going to have to challenge people’s thinking. To be sure, truly addressing the problem of racism is going to take more than a statement. It’s going to take more than symbols. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.

One of the important topics that needs to be understood is white privilege. I believe the author of this article, Milwaukee Bucks star Kyle Korver, does a good job of sharing his thoughts on what white privilege is and what we need to do as a nation to address it.

As a marketer by trade, I know that audiences are often more receptive to a message when it is delivered by someone who is like them. As a white male who is privileged in his experience and revered by many basketball fans, Korver is an important messenger. We need lots of different messengers if we are to succeed in fostering these difficult conversations about racism.

We also need to know that this problem won’t be solved overnight. It’s not a 12-month exercise. It’s going to be a journey. CUES is in it for the long haul to provide actionable learning experiences about diversity, equity and inclusion that will put credit union leaders in a position to make a difference in their organizations and their communities. The role of leaders is to harness the activity and enthusiasm of people within the organization to deliver on plans to address racial inequalities in organizations and communities. Doing so means establishing a vision that includes accountability, effectively communicating the vision, motivating people to work toward the vision and, ultimately, delivering on the vision.

As an organization, CUES is very enthusiastic about all the communication that’s been shared by credit unions and other players in our industry focused on addressing racial equity. We look forward to continued participation from many diverse people, including CUES members in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, as we work together to address this centuries-long challenge.

Since joining CUES in March 2013, John Pembroke has played a leadership role in developing and launching a new direction in CUES’ strategy, branding and culture. Under his guidance, CUES has revamped its membership structure, launched new institutes and introduced Elite Access™ Virtual Classroom, an innovative blending learning offering. Additionally, CUES has expanded its market further into Canada and the Caribbean. Pembroke’s experience includes 25 years in financial services, marketing and e-commerce. He also has served as chief marketing officer at PSCU Financial Services, St. Petersburg, Fla. Pembroke holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Marketing and Policy Studies from the Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago. 

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