Celebrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with CU Pride

As an industry that prides itself on having a philosophy of People Helping People, it is no surprise that the Credit Union Movement has its own organization dedicated to promoting the visibility and voice of LGBTQ+ individuals within its ranks – CU Pride 

CU Pride was informally launched in 2020 as part of a meet-up during Mitchell Stankovic and Associates’ Underground Collision RAW event, held in conjunction with CUNA’s (now America’s Credit Unions) Washington D.C. Governmental Affairs Conference. It formally launched a few months later in June 2020 with the first annual Virtual CU Pride Event which brought together 300 attendees from around the world. 

Since then, CU Pride has become the credit union industry’s go-to LGBTQ+ organization, providing a safe but brave place for communion and discussion, encouraging action by allies and social change agents, and fostering inclusivity and consciousness through programs, education, and networking. 

We’ve gone from a small group to an official association with a robust membership,” explained Zach Christensen, CU Pride’s Executive Director and Co-Founder and Director of DEI and Digital Marketing at Mitchell Stankovic and Associates. “We have founding members and Pioneer Allies who are creating sustainability for us, and we’re building out programs to have credit unions reach their LGBTQ+ membership in an authentic way.” 

“The work CU Pride is doing is critically important to the movement’s future, not only to provide inclusive workplaces, but to serve all members in the way they want to be served,” said Tyler Valentine, President and CEO of Wyoming-based StagePoint Federal Credit Union, who was part of CU Pride’s first meet-up and has continued to be a supporter of the group. “Credit unions have been, and should always be, places of not only non-discrimination, but places of inclusion. CU Pride raises awareness and ensures credit unions are where all people can show up authentically and build thriving careers or find financial services tailored to them.” 

In addition to its two monthly virtual events, BJHH and Allies Into Action, CU Pride will be hosting four special events in June to celebrate Pride Month, including two lunch and learns, a Leadership Conference, and the CU Pride Virtual Celebration. While there is an in-person event in the works for later this year, from an equity standpoint, the organization wants to make sure as many people as possible interact, engage, and are a part of the events so much of their programming is held online and open to non-members as well. 

The Leadership Conference on June 12 is a four-hour virtual event that will be broadcast from a studio in Las Vegas and offer live and pre-recorded panel discussions, commentary, and keynotes. The CU Pride Virtual Celebration on June 28 is the Pride “parade” for the credit union industry where attendees will play games and enjoy live entertainment and performances. “It is truly about having fun,” Christensen explained. “This is the chance for those members who are not only passionate about the Credit Union Movement but who are part of our community to have their voice out there as well. It’s a really great time.” 

CU Pride membership is comprised of credit unions, individuals, credit union service organizations, and other associations. Because CU Pride membership is open to everyone within a member organization, CU Pride reaches nearly 32,000 professionals. 

“At BECU, we’re honored to support CU Pride at its highest level of commitment as a Pioneer Ally,” said Gloria Dixon, BECU Director of Philanthropy & Executive Director of the BECU Foundation. “As one of CU Pride’s first credit union members, we recognize the vital role the organization plays in supporting our LGBTQIA+ members, employees, communities, and allies in fostering inclusive and accepting spaces for celebration, education, and engagement within the Credit Union Movement.” 

“If we are going to be People Helping People, it’s got to be People Helping All People,” Christensen added, “and that includes our employees and all the dedicated, wonderful resources who put in their time, talent, and treasure into this industry. Even if you think you’ve got it down and you’ve got it done, we know there is always more to learn. We are here to provide any or all of that.” 

Unitus Community Credit Union, with locations in Oregon and Southwest Washington, celebrates the diversity of their employees and works to empower and support them however they can and has used CU Pride’s programs and resources to do just that. “In one of our CEO DEI Advocacy Hours, CU Pride engaged with our staff to encourage allyship, how best to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues, and shared the importance of inclusion,” explained Steven Stapp, President and CEO of Unitus.  

“Understanding the discrimination, microaggressions, and challenges LGBTQ+ community members face gives us the perspective we need to ensure everyone in our organization feels safe, valued, and included,” continued Megan Snyder, Unitus’ VP of Strategic Partnerships and Portfolio Management.Zach and his team have been a wonderful resource, promoting inclusion and allyship and educating us on how we can best advocate for LGBTQ+ credit union professionals.” 

To learn more about CU Pride and how you or your credit union can become involved in their June events, visit cupride.org. 

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