“When it comes to diversity, there is a false illusion of immediate transformation,” says Dayatra (Day) Matthews, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for Civic Federal Credit Union and sister organization, Local Government Federal Credit Union.
“Actually, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a continuous and intentional journey,” she said. “It needs to be so embedded in the culture that it naturally shows up in many ways, all the time.”
Day Matthews serves as DEI Officer and is proud of the diversity progress the organization has made. But she knows there is more to do. Her vision is to go deeper in diversity; to develop equitable and inclusive practices that create opportunity and strength for employees and credit union members.
She believes that diversity means nothing if people don’t believe they have opportunity or feel included.
Inclusion as a Mindset, Not a Program
Matthews recently accepted an award for diversity achievements from the Triangle Business Journal. As preparation for the ceremony, recipients were asked to share a quote about what diversity means to them.
Day shared the following quote from inclusion expert, Lisa Friedman:
‘Inclusion is not a program, inclusion is a mindset. It is the way we treat others, and the way others treat us. It’s an opportunity to learn together and from one another. And we do it, why? Simply because it’s the right thing to do. Period.’
The key to this mindset is belonging. “We need to change the mindset and put yourself in someone’s shoes,” Matthews shared. “Only then can we change hearts and minds. We need to do what’s right.”
The Business Case for DEI Practices
While demographic stats must be celebrated, Matthews says we need to go beyond the numbers and up the ante on diversity. Specifically, she points to being intentional and putting a stronger emphasis on equity and inclusion in every way.
Matthews encourages us all to think about the deeper meaning of diversity and what it means for organizations and the people they serve. “We should place less emphasis on the business case for diversity, and instead move the theme to the business case for DEI practices,” she shared.
“A culture of diversity, equity and inclusion is intentional, continuous and embedded in how we work with each other, our members and our vendors,” said Matthews.
At Civic, the diversity team is a board-approved committee. And every board member signed a DEI commitment letter. Matthews notes that kind of leadership commitment is needed to encourage and support equity and inclusion across an entire company.
Looking ahead to 2022
To help build on the foundation of an equitable and inclusive organizational mindset, Civic is taking a deeper dive into diversity, equity and inclusion in the following ways.
Culture of Inclusivity: The DEI committee has organized a popular “Get to Know Your Neighbor” series that provides space for colleagues to connect in deeper ways. The program uses an intentional prompt to spark the conversation such as: Share a time or event of impact that helped to shape who you are. This event takes place every other month and is a favorite among the Civic staff. Also, the Learning and Development team will expand opportunities to present more guest speakers and celebrate heritage months.
Community Understanding: Civic is hoping to partner with a data analytics company to help the Credit Union better understand cultural and anthropologic perspectives that shape how North Carolinians receive a range of information. This will help the Credit Union better serve all communities in NC.
Partner and Vendor Relations: Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging relates to all business relationships and partnerships. Civic is intentional about knowing who vendors are, what efforts they make on DEI, and what expertise they have to confirm alignment on a shared mission and vision.
Employee Engagement: Plans are already underway to engage deeper with employees about equity, inclusion and diversity issues through the use of a survey. This will take place in Q1 of 2022.
DEI Officer Day Matthews, with the Board of Directors and staff, has prioritized equity and inclusion for Civic and created substantial momentum for its diversity journey. The goal is to do the right thing and to create a culture committed to changing both hearts and minds.
Learn more about how Civic celebrates the differences that bring us together.