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From the CEO
July 31, 2020

Dear Members:

At Corporate One, I have always believed in recognizing our staff members as individuals with capabilities that enable us to achieve our mission and serve our members. At an organizational level, this has meant hiring and developing people with the knowledge, skills, and initiative to drive our organization forward. While I am proud to lead an organization that focuses on capabilities and actively prohibits discrimination, our nation is crying out for all of us to do more. I watched the unfolding news stories of George Floyd’s death on May 25 and the community responses that followed, and, like so many other business leaders have gained an awareness that the business community can and must champion meaningful change to ensure that equal opportunity is truly a reality and every individual is appreciated for themselves.

As with many things, change starts at home and within each of us. In the weeks since Mr. Floyd’s death, the Corporate One leadership team has participated in many educational sessions/events, and we have taken several steps to proactively support meaningful change.

For example, as a member of the credit union cooperative movement, Corporate One was founded on the simple yet meaningful philosophy of “people helping people,” and there are seven basic principles by which all cooperatives operate. While inclusiveness and compassion for all people are inherent within these principles and our overall mission to serve the underserved, Corporate One recently adopted an additional principle to support our focus on making meaningful changes: “Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are a part of what credit unions do each and every day. We support embracing DEI efforts within our organizations, as well as throughout our movement and across all cooperatives.”

In addition, Corporate One has adopted a “Head, Heart and Hands” approach to guide our internal and external change-management initiatives, and this approach can be summarized as follows:

  • Head: This phase involves data and knowledge gathering. We believe knowledge is imperative to understanding how inequality has occurred in the past and what opportunities to improve exist for our future. To date, Corporate One’s leadership team has attended many webinars, read numerous books, scrutinized our own demographics and employee systems and processes, and discussed potential opportunities to expand our efforts and do more.
  • Heart: This phase is about listening and recognizing that any/every endeavor must include an emotional commitment (in addition to understanding data). We recognize that in listening to others’ perspectives and experiences, we are learning how powerful DEI can be in encouraging all individuals to achieve their best vision of themselves. We have always encouraged our staff members to share their experiences with our leadership team, and DEI offers the opportunity to gain even greater understanding and empathy as we view the world through another person’s eyes/lens.
  • Hands: While the “head” and “heart” phases highlight our intentions, the “hands” phase reflects our actions. As an affirmative action employer, we have always assessed demographics, sought to encourage diversity in recruitment efforts, and ensured that every staff member can learn and develop their capabilities and seek advancement. We believe that doing more is always possible, though, and the impact of what we’ve learned in recent days about the history of racism and the perspective of those afflicted by it has challenged us to be more proactive than ever before. Recently, we contributed $10,000 to the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) in recognition of Juneteenth Day because we believe that the AACUC offers educational and developmental opportunities that are much needed to encourage equality for all individuals. We are also currently developing leadership and staff awareness DEI educational classes and are coordinating our “Be Heard” sessions. “Be Heard” stands for “Hearing Everyone Allows for Real Discourse,” and these sessions will give staff the opportunity to dialogue with our leadership and each other on DEI topics.

Along with our increased focus toward education, self-awareness, and proactive involvement, we hope that ideas will continue to surface as we talk with our staff members and others in our industry and local communities so we can continue to implement changes that will make a meaningful difference. I would love to hear what you are doing at your credit unions to encourage and ensure DEI. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at 614/825-9351 or mashley@corporateone.coop.

Best,
Melissa Ashley
President/CEO