Update on Our Actions to be a More Inclusive Cooperative
(Editor's note: Benson Porter retired in December 2022. Beverly Anderson joined BECU as President and CEO Dec. 5, 2022.) Updated Dec. 11, 2020: CEO Benson Porter describes the cooperative's progress toward being a more inclusive credit union and an even stronger ally to the communities we serve.
All of us can agree that 2020 has been a year like no other. In addition to the pandemic and its impact on the economy, the calls across the nation for social change continue to lead the headlines and remain at the forefront of national dialogue. At BECU we believe these ongoing conversations are fundamental to creating a more equitable nation and future.
As we look toward the end of the year, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on the many ways our communities have come together in support of each other. The credit union mantra, "People helping people," is a principle I see lived out every day by BECU members, employees and community members. It is this dedication to one another that inspires me and gives me hope as we continue to face the many challenges and opportunities that 2020 has put in our paths. Through our inclusive values and a shared commitment to create change within our communities, there is a common thread that connects us all.
At BECU, people helping people goes beyond supporting our members with their financial goals. It means not standing idle in the face of bias and racism, and recognizing our responsibility to embrace and support diverse experiences and viewpoints.
In my last letter, I committed to expanding our efforts to create a more inclusive cooperative for our employees, members and communities. I'm pleased to share this update on the progress we have made and where we will go from here.
BECU leadership and employees have been hard at work to listen, learn and make progress toward our racial equity commitment and goals. Our most recent actions include:
- Expanded our leadership team. Our new VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Jackie Martinez-Vasquez will lead BECU-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, tools and processes, including our "Belonging, Inclusion and Leveraging Differences" (BILD) initiative, which was introduced in 2018. She also will be the executive liaison for BECU's employee connection groups. Jackie is joined by Fumbi Chima who will serve as EVP and Chief Information Officer, bringing more than 25 years of leadership and technology experience to BECU's executive team.
- Developed an internal dashboard to keep employees updated on representation across all employee levels up to the executive level. This ensures BECU reflects the communities we serve.
- Introduced Respectful Workplace guidelines for employees.
- Developed a Member Code of Conduct to ensure all employees feel safe and empowered within their work environments.
This work builds on months of internal conversations including 18 virtual town halls with more than 1,500 BECU employees and employee connection groups, like the Black Alliance Cooperative, to develop a roadmap to become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.
Looking Ahead to the Future
Even with these accomplishments, we know our work must continue. We understand that becoming a more equitable cooperative requires a long-term commitment.
This is why we're honored to partner with the Black Future Co-op Fund (housed by The Seattle Foundation), the African American Credit Union Coalition and many other local grassroots nonprofits through the Black Community Development Project (BCDP).
Through BCDP's various giving programs, BECU will contribute $5M over the next five years ($1M per year) to nonprofits that are supporting the emotional, physical and financial health of the Black community, and are led by Black leaders and staffed by a predominately Black and multicultural staff. I'm extremely thankful for the leadership of our Social Impact team and members of the Black Alliance Cooperative, our employee network group for black employees, who helped bring this project to fruition.
This is BECU's first step in a larger effort to invest in programs that support Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. The work accomplished through the BCDP builds on years of BECU giving back to our communities through programs including our People Helping People Award, BECU Foundation Scholarship, our Annual Day of Service and more.
This December will mark BECU's 85th anniversary, a positive milestone in this unprecedented year and one that reinforces the success of the cooperative model. So far this year we have welcomed more than 70,000 new members to our cooperative. We are very appreciative of the trust they, and all our members, are placing with us in these particularly challenging times.
BECU would not exist today if it weren't for the motivation and care of a small group of Boeing workers who saw a need to help their coworkers. I encourage you to embody this idea of people helping people. That is what we will do at BECU, just as we have always done.