DEI is a five-year research project led by Dr. Quinetta Roberson of Villanova University to tackle challenges in access to both talent and products and services in the financial services industry. Dr. Roberson will build off of the work that the credit union industry is already doing and conduct applied research on DEI practices in credit unions to serve as a model for the larger financial services sector.
“The credit union movement has a proud legacy of connecting underserved communities to resources and tools that promote financial empowerment,” said Jeff Meshey, President and CEO at Desert Financial. “We have long sought the right opportunity to contribute to serious research on diversity, equity and inclusion related to the financial services sector. We’re proud to align with the Filene Research Institute’s new Center for Excellence for DEI at this critical moment in our history.”
The topic of DEI is not new to the credit union industry but there is much work to be done. Dr. Roberson brings a fresh perspective to creating compelling research and actionable ideas for the credit union industry and through her leadership and passion will focus on:
- Laying the foundation for industry-wide benchmarking of the current state of DEI in credit unions to accurately measure progress.
- Bringing cutting-edge academic research forward by studying the barriers to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce and workplace.
- Identifying best practices, establishing playbooks and building tools and guides to implement best practices.
“We anticipate Dr. Roberson’s findings will serve as a roadmap for all credit unions for improving our best practices in diversity, equity and inclusion. I anticipate the discoveries made will impact policy related to our own workplaces and business operations, and yield positive changes for our members, communities and teams,” Meshey added.
The purpose of Filene’s Centers of Excellence is to bring cutting-edge insights and innovation to credit unions. Four years ago, Filene first introduced the concept of Centers of Excellence to help address the most pressing issues facing the future of credit unions. Each Center of Excellence is led by an academic at the top of their field and delivers multiple research outputs each year to help credit unions prepare for the future and improve their members’ financial well-being. In order to do this important work, each Center of Excellence is supported through partnerships like this with Desert Financial Credit Union.
“Thanks to partners like Desert Financial Credit Union and with Dr. Roberson’s leadership, there is an opportunity to transform how we understand what matters around diversity, equity, fairness and inclusion,” said Taylor C. Nelms, Senior Director of Research at Filene Research Institute. “It is critical to look at diversity, equity and inclusion from many different angles, including both visible and invisible forms of diversity, from the workplace to the marketplace, in order to increase diverse representation and advance organizational inclusiveness and equitable outcomes in credit unions and in financial services generally.”
Desert Financial Credit Union is proud to join this generous list of partners for the Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Schools First Credit Union, State Department Federal Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, United Nations Federal Credit Union, University of Wisconsin Credit Union, Visions Federal Credit Union and Xceed Financial Federal Credit Union.
Filene Research Institute strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial well-being. As an independent cooperative finance think tank, Filene’s membership network connects a community of leaders and bright minds to change lives through innovation, truth and cooperation. In addition to delivering cutting-edge, actionable academic research, Filene also provides incubators to test and scale solutions, events to spark organizations into action and advisory services to help accelerate and implement innovation.
Celebrating 81 years in Arizona, Desert Financial is the state’s largest local credit union with $6 billion in assets, more than 330,000 members and 47 locations across the Valley. As a not-for-profit cooperative, Desert Financial takes pride in sharing success. In 2019, Desert Financial gave nearly $11 million to Valley nonprofits, the community and members.