Creating Our Own Corporate Social Responsibility Playbook

By: Shayla Dvorak, Community Relations Specialist and Sharina Sallis, Manager of Community Relations

Level-Setting: CUNA Mutual Group is built on the principle of “people helping people.” Our workforce lives that principle every single day. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in our company includes community relations, employee engagement and volunteering, the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, sustainability, and more. Over the past few years, we have realized we do CSR a little differently than a lot of other companies. We are part of the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) team which allows us to weave a thread of equity through all the work we do.

Who Are We? Collectively, our CSR Team has more than 30 years of combined experience working within philanthropy and communities.2We bring a diverse background, breadth of knowledge, and distinctive personal and professional experiences to this work. A few examples of our combined and previous professional experience include serving in the military, government, claims management, and non-profit work. Couple this with our own individual experiences and there you have it -we are fierce advocates for DEI. More importantly, we are honored and fortunate that we work with our Foundation Board who has been intentional to prioritize equity as the strategy.

Vulnerability: We believe that a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone. This purpose directly aligns with our “why” as a credit union movement –we can lead the way on providing financial well-being for all. However, we know accessibility isn’t always true for every person seeking to create financial security for their family. The Foundation is one of the ways we live out the purpose and promise of the organization by centering equity within our three strategic areas of focus: education, economic security and emergency aid relief. Equity is truly where the work of corporate social responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion intertwine. We have spent the last two years getting proximate to community partners –really listening to them and trusting them to tell us what they need.

Growth: In 16 years of working at CUNA Mutual Group I (Sharina) can honestly say I’ve seen a lot when it comes to the work of the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation. It still amazes me that I get to do this kind of work every day. It has been an evolution of questioning and changing behaviors along with mindsets to think more about how we can center equity. We know we do things differently, which is why our questions are not formulaic. We start by asking ourselves how we can become more proximate to our communities, so we can better amplify their voices. In my three years at the company, I (Shayla) have seen firsthand how a culture of engagement and giving back is woven into the fabric of everything we do. CUNA Mutual Group and its Foundation are not just talking the talk –we contribute in monetary ways, but we also share our time and talent as well.

The Future: In 2020, our workforce and our company responded to community needs in unprecedented ways. We were only able to do that because of the foundation we laid at the start of 2019. We have learned there is no “best way” to do this work. There is no roadmap. We are creating our own playbook. By using the lessons, we have learned through our company’s internal focus on DEI, we have also been able to create an inclusive, transformative environment for our philanthropic efforts.

To find out more about our work, visit our Foundation page

Written by
Lizeth George
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The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates represents 342 credit unions in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a combined total of $118.63 billion in assets and more than 10.1 million members. LSCU & Affiliates provides legislative and regulatory advocacy; education and training; cooperative initiatives (including financial education outreach); public messaging; information services; and business solutions.

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