As Prepared for Delivery on November 19
Since becoming the NCUA Chairman, I have described financial inclusion as the civil rights issue of our time. By ‘inclusion,’ I mean not only broader access to affordable financial services, but also to employment and business opportunities. Our country is going through a period of profound demographic change, and our financial system should be leading efforts to respond to that change. Credit unions are growing stronger, and they serve their members and communities better when they promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of their business model.
The NCUA’s recent financial inclusion initiative ACCESS - Advancing Communities through Credit, Education, Stability & Support shows our strong commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion in the credit union system. And part of that commitment is building a database of credit unions’ activities related to diversity and inclusion. The data that credit unions voluntarily provide helps the NCUA better understand areas where guidance would be useful and, when appropriate, prompts us to issue guidance to help bridge the gaps and assist credit unions with their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Annually since 2016, the NCUA has encouraged credit unions to share their diversity and inclusion successes and challenges by completing and submitting the Credit Union Diversity Self-Assessment. The Self-Assessment is voluntary — it is not part of the NCUA’s or state regulators’ examination processes, and it has no impact on your credit union’s CAMEL rating.
Unquestionably, recent months have been tremendously challenging. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting response has severely disrupted almost every aspect of American life. Exacerbating this uncertain and challenging environment is the tragic death of George Floyd.
Mr. Floyd’s death resulted in an outpouring of pain and anger nationwide surrounding another instance of abuse of authority against a black man. At the same time, however, I am heartened by the responses from so many in the credit union community. If there is a commonality among these responses, it is that people want to move beyond platitudes and vague expressions of support so we can focus on real changes that will have a concrete impact. To that end, participation in the NCUA’s Annual Voluntary Credit Union Diversity Self-Assessment is a small, but important step.
Once received, the NCUA aggregates the data and issues an annual report on the state of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the industry, without identifying any single respondent. Based on the state of the industry, the NCUA also creates and makes available resources that credit unions can use to address diversity, equity and inclusion in the credit union industry.
Last year, 118 credit unions completed the Annual Voluntary Credit Union Diversity Self-Assessment and in the prior year, 81 credit unions participated. Though this represents year-over-year progress, it is not good enough. I encourage the industry to take this small step to show your commitment to diversity and inclusion.