Building Business Resource Groups That Drive DEI for Credit Unions

diverse employees
By Laura Sehres

5 minutes

Setting up and fostering BRGs isn’t one-size-fits-all. Here are some suggestions from a payments CUSO that has done it.

Business resource groups are powerful tools that can help organizations, including credit unions, promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Successful BRGs are not in a silo; they are a miniature model of what DEI looks like at the organization, and they play a vital role in driving positive change in the workplace through enhancing cultural awareness and understanding of the lived experiences of underrepresented groups. Fostering an environment where your employees can authentically bring their true selves to work will not only promote a welcoming atmosphere in your credit union, but also increase the engagement of your team and your members.

PSCU, a payments credit union service organization and an integrated financial technology solutions provider, has made DEI a foundation of its culture and decision-making process, and the success of each of our five BRGs in promoting professional development and creating a sense of belonging among employees has contributed to this commitment. With more than 30% of our workforce actively involved in BRGs, PSCU has witnessed that peak business functionality and performance are enabled by high inclusion, belonging and diversity. Credit unions can see the same success by taking a strategic approach to forming BRGs that drive DEI in the long term.

Establishing Business Resource Groups

At PSCU, we have embedded DEI into our business strategy by shifting from employee resource groups to BRGs, which are interwoven within the company's end-to-end business solutions. Both ERGs and BRGs are employee-led. However, ERGs are employee-focused groups that support and promote the interests of a particular group, while BRGs are business-focused groups that align the interests of the employee group with the organization's business objectives. PSCU’s BRGs, for example, partner with talent acquisition on our diversity recruiting strategy and provide guidance to senior leadership on various topics. In essence, BRGs become advisors to the business through the lens of a particular demographic group.

To build BRGs, credit unions should begin by looking at employee demographics to identify important communities and areas of underrepresented groups. Based on this analysis and an evaluation of grassroots efforts or existing ERGs, credit unions can develop a process and organizational framework that is tailored to their individual workplace. This process typically includes specifying the group’s mission and vision, aligning goals and securing sponsorship. Defining membership (establishing benefits and ensuring it is open to all employees to join), creating a calendar of regular meetings and incorporating BRGs into onboarding are critical for success. Setting up BRGs is not a one-size-fits-all process, and credit unions can start with just one as a pilot with the goal of expanding BRGs to mirror the demographics of the organization.

Managing BRGs and Measuring Progress

Continued evolution is key to new BRGs’ sustained impact and long-term success. Managing BRGs requires initiating clear communication channels, providing resources and support, encouraging participation and engagement, and holding regular meetings and events. While quantifying BRGs’ impact may be challenging at early stages, evaluating and setting goals is critical and can help sustain leadership buy-in. These goals can be tied to employee engagement survey results, credit unions’ net promoter scores and the percentage of employees who are members or otherwise engaged with BRG efforts, among others.

A crucial and measurable area of value generation is employee satisfaction and retention. It has been proven that employees are more successful and engaged when they feel their uniqueness and authenticity are embraced at work. In addition to driving the attraction and retention of a high-performing workforce, developing BRGs that foster a culture of inclusion and belonging can enhance the employee experience and improve sentiment overall. Higher employee satisfaction and retention also contribute to positive member experiences and create continuity, which can contribute to members’ loyalty to their trusted financial institutions.

Maintaining Momentum and Long-term Value

Maintaining BRGs’ momentum is crucial to improving engagement, countering unconscious bias, fostering an inclusive atmosphere and reducing stigmas through education and awareness. BRGs must avoid complacency and expand avenues for employees to learn and grow. To foster sustained employee engagement and participation, integrate BRGs into all aspects of the workplace culture and business—and continue to evolve the approach to meet changing needs.

Burnout among BRG leaders can be a significant challenge. To prevent burnout and engagement drop-off, it is important to invest in developing leaders of underrepresented backgrounds and to support those individuals on the path to leadership within the business. PSCU’s BRGs have succeeded in implementing mentoring circles to foster continued engagement by promoting professional development. Through mentoring circles and leadership development opportunities, BRGs can create a talent pipeline for diverse leadership. By increasing BRG leaders’ visibility to senior leadership, credit unions can also create opportunities for leaders of different backgrounds to gain experience and progress in their careers—advancing representation of underrepresented groups and strengthening the leadership succession by including people with a diverse range of experiences.

Once multiple BRGs are established, building synergies that generate opportunities for communication, collaboration and cross-functional projects provides mutual benefits and meaningful engagement—especially considering the intersectionality of identities and experiences. For example, PSCU’s five BRGs collaborate to provide perspectives on service and community giving, often supporting the same nonprofit community organizations. 

In addition to giving, PSCU’s BRGs elevate their counterparts’ initiatives, including speaker events and awareness months across the program. My colleague, Damaris Carroll, PSCU’s DEI and employee experience program manager, recently collaborated with the CUSO’s leadership and BRG teams to curate a virtual event honoring Black History Month. She speaks to what the event’s success means for PSCU:

“PSCU’s Black History Month event was the highest-attended BRG event in company history, with nearly 300 employees joining from across PSCU. This level of company-wide attendance and support clearly shows that our employees and leaders are ‘walking the walk’ by not only supporting BRGs’ initiatives, but also deepening their understanding of their colleagues’ lived experiences.”

For credit unions seeking to bolster their commitment to DEI, building BRGs is a critical strategy that can create a diverse and inclusive workplace benefitting employees, members and the organization as a whole. When setting up BRGs, credit unions should commit to supporting, maintaining and evolving their strategies to meet changing needs and continue moving the needle on DEI.

To learn more about PSCU’s DEI efforts as well as our BRGs, be sure to visit our DEI page on our website.

Laura Sehres is VP/diversity, equity and inclusion at PSCU, a CUESolutions provider. She's also chair of the PSCU D&I Steering Committee. Sehres provides strategic thought leadership and serves as a key advisor to PSCU’s leadership team and financial institutions on how to best embed DEI practices, improve organizational performance and position PSCU as a DEI industry leader.

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