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Embracing a multicultural path to innovation

By Robert N. Trunzo, President and CEO, CUNA Mutual Group

More than five years ago, CUNA Mutual Group recognized the importance of investing in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). So much so, in fact, that we made it one of our core values as a company. Today, as we look out into the market, we believe the biggest opportunity to better serve consumers for our collective credit union system – founded on the philosophy of people helping people  – is to embrace a multicultural path to innovation. Over the past 10 years, multicultural consumers accounted for 99% of U.S. population growth and 61% of credit union growth. And digital technology is used by every consumer at some point in their research, buy and service journey, shaping their expectations of experience.

At CUNA Mutual Group, we’re doing all we can to understand the many complexities of people’s identities that influence how they interact with financial services. Cultural background, attitudes, values, beliefs, priorities and more are all a basis for the insights our Multicultural Center of Expertise is applying when exploring consumer experiences and testing new financial services and solutions.

Insights are drawn from significant analysis and research that concludes diversity matters to business performance. In fact, in every product line we’ve looked at – both credit union lending, savings and our own insurance – race and ethnicity have a dramatic impact on: how people think about products, who they look to for trusted advice, how they want to pay their bills and which channels they prefer. African Americans, for example, respond to our life insurance offers at TWICE the rate of all other races and ethnicities in every income category.

These findings support a compelling business and values case for what our credit union industry can do to better reach and serve diverse populations. Together, we have the potential to influence everything from images and language used in marketing materials to digital user interface, design and functionality. And, these insights can shape a full range of products and services made available to members.

An essential part of our commitment to innovating through a multicultural lens is our larger responsibility for understanding and reflecting the markets we serve. This is why we’re focused on becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive at CUNA Mutual Group. Multicultural teams simply make better business decisions and drive the kind of innovation that fosters meaningful connections and better service for all. That means we’re creating better products and member experiences; and credit unions, in turn, are driving better business performance. It’s why our Multicultural Center of Expertise and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion teams are sharing what we’re learning with credit unions.

Leaning in and embracing the credit union movement’s eighth cooperative principle, diversity and inclusion, is the key to finding new, innovative ways to create long-lasting relationships with members. And, it’s core to our philosophy of people helping people.

Robert (Bob) N. Trunzo is the president and chief executive officer for CUNA Mutual Group, the leading provider of insurance and financial services to credit unions and their members.

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The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates represents nearly 300 credit unions throughout Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. It has a combined total of almost $200 billion in assets and 12.4 million members. LSCU provides advocacy, compliance services, education and training, cooperative initiatives, and communications.

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