Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Diversity and Inclusion: We Can Learn and Grow Together

By Jeff Peterson, Director, Sourcing & Vendor Management Office

Here at CUNA Mutual Group, we have made a commitment to build a more diverse, inclusive organization. It’s a fantastic initiative; but, in practice, it takes a lot more than just ideas. We need to understand why diversity and inclusion (D&I) is important – and how to take action to reach company goals.

Recently, I attended a local forum focused on diversity through the lens of advancing talent, opportunity and growth for all my local region’s citizens.

For me, personally, the summit was incredibly thought provoking. It challenged my beliefs and assumptions about Madison, where I live and work. The summit also offered perspectives from beyond my local area, examining case studies from some of the most successful communities the country. These programs inspired me. They embraced and encouraged diversity in all its forms and they spurred economic growth.

From mass transit and job accessibility strategies to financial marketing campaigns, many ideas shared at the summit were practical and proven. And, they could realistically be adopted and implemented by organizations anywhere.

One example that stuck with me was the Change the Sign inclusion campaign. Led by another financial institution, it offers a unique way for a company to support and focus on people with disabilities.

The campaign creates awareness for the need to update parking signs for people with disabilities. These signs haven’t been changed in 50 years and still display the outdated term “handicapped.” This simple initiative can bring about positive change. It demonstrates the lead organization’s commitment to people with disabilities. It also exposes an issue many people may not have considered before – how insulting this term and sign can be to the group it is intended to support.

I’m learning a lot as we travel down the path to greater diversity and inclusion here at CUNA Mutual Group. This session really showed me how important D&I is, not only in creating a better working environment for employees, but also for the continued success of organizations that care about people.

The summit I attended was just one opportunity to reach out, look deeper and learn more. I encourage anyone and everyone to make D&I a focus, both personally and professionally. By broadening perspectives, we’re creating change for the better.