Steps boards can take to help move the organizational needle
It’s increasingly important for the board to learn and practice inclusive behaviors. By advocating for and setting an example of inclusion at the board level, directors can help move the organizational needle as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Boards that are serious about improving their DEI efforts take time to discuss and evaluate how DEI dynamics affect not only the marketplace in which they compete but also their business strategy.
There isn’t one right way for all boards to create an inclusive governance model. It’s important to adapt the approach to each organization’s unique characteristics.
Advocating for DEI
Employees see inclusion as one of the most important factors in deciding where to work, and they want it to be fundamental to their daily work experiences. When boards think and act inclusively, it sends a clear message about what is important to the organization, according to the Deloitte Center for Board Effectiveness.
Answer the following questions to get the conversation started:
- What is the credit union’s working definition of “inclusion,” and what is its vision for an inclusive culture?
- How do the credit union’s mission, vision and values reflect inclusion?
- What is the credit union doing to advance inclusion and where is it making progress?
- How can the board best begin to foster inclusion through its operating principles and behaviors?
- What tools and resources are needed to effectively and thoughtfully engage in discussions about DEI? Are curiosity and courageous conversations encouraged?
When it comes to DEI, boards need to move from a place of complacency to one of action. Bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to build a culture of DEI and belonging takes determination. Consider taking these steps:
- Establish an organization-wide DEI strategy and lay out your practices.
- Form a board committee dedicated to this or designate an inclusion champion on the board.
- Review and/or update board composition, recruiting and succession practices to include a focused effort on building a pipeline of diverse candidates.
- Prioritize DEI on the board agenda by regularly scheduling time during meetings to discuss and monitor related progress and goals.
Why Inclusion Matters
By fostering inclusivity and building a diverse organization, boards demonstrate their commitment to creating equity and fulfilling the mission of fully serving the credit union’s members and communities strategically and sustainably. The heart of DEI is about shifting our behaviors and mindsets and ensuring these efforts are woven throughout the organization and at the center of all decision-making.
It’s time for boards to recognize both their potential for influencing inclusion and their responsibility to do so, not only for the sake of employees but also for their members and the communities they serve. Bottom line, the moral imperative is undeniable and the risk of failing to act is too great.
Alison Carr is chief strategist/consultant with Your Credit Union Partner.