Partner Spotlight: Advantis Credit Union

May 31, 2024 – Our monthly Member Spotlight showcases a dedicated member who is actively working to dismantle obstacles for professionals of color and foster workplaces that prioritize equity, inclusion, and belonging for everyone. This month we connected with Advantis Credit Union.

How have Advantis CU’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives enhanced its internal culture and fostered a more inclusive environment for its staff, members, and the community?

At Advantis Credit Union we are committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We structure our DEI strategy into four pillars: 1) Advantis (focus is on the organization as a whole); 2) Employer (focus is on staff); 3) Service (focus is on members); and 4) Community (focus is on community partnerships). We pride ourselves on ensuring that we thread DEI principles and practices throughout the entire organization.

As an employer, we focus on developing a sense of belonging for all employees, especially those who have faced (and continue to face) systemic barriers in a professional setting. One program that helps build belonging is our Advantis Belonging Community (ABC) Program. Our five ABCs (known as Employee Resource Groups at other organizations) focus on building community and enhancing the experience of our employees through mentorship, personal/professional development, and leadership opportunities. We understand that DEI programs (like employee resource groups) alone are limited in their enhancement of belonging. To create a real culture of belonging we take a holistic approach to our internal culture. One example of us doing this is by ensuring that equity and fairness are included in our compensation philosophy. We review our compensation decisions regularly and make sure that biases don’t inadvertently influence compensation decisions. We believe in dismantling any biases within our internal processes, procedures, and programs.

In terms of fostering a more inclusive environment for our members and local communities we do this by reminding ourselves that we are a cooperative founded on the philosophy of “people helping people.” We focus on creating an inclusive experience for our members which has included the creation of our Access Checking account, an account with minimal account qualifications and no overdraft fees, and the most recent launch of a braille option on our debit and credit cards. In addition to our inclusive member experience, we focus on developing partnerships with local communities and non-profit organizations. Through our Allies for Good community giving program, we dedicate one-third of our philanthropy budget to support communities that have faced exclusion and underrepresentation.

We understand that there is no end point in DEI and that we must continue to challenge ourselves to be a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization for our staff, members, and community.

Tell us about a notable Partners in Diversity program or connection that has helped further your organization’s DEI efforts.

Partners in Diversity has been a great partner in helping Advantis Credit Union further our organization’s DEI efforts. Our team members have regularly attended “Say Hey!” events throughout the years and have participated in several of the Community Resource Group events. Last year, several folks from our DEI team, the People & Culture team, and our DEI Council attended the NW Equity Summit. The NW Equity Summit energized the team and helped us become more innovative in terms of our DEI efforts.

In addition, our DEI team attended the most recent Breakfast for Champions that focused on Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). The ability to network with other folks who are passionate about ERGs has been something we have been looking for and this Breakfast for Champions has helped us exchange ERG program best practices with folks right here in our local community.

What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to actively engage their employees in their DEI efforts?

You must be intentional with your DEI efforts. DEI shouldn’t only come from leadership, a DEI department, or marginalized communities. DEI needs to come from all parts of the organization. It’s important that you are constantly seeking feedback on your DEI efforts and that you are making changes based on that feedback. You also need to meet your employees where they are at. Every employee is at a different spot on their DEI journey. Therefore, you must have the mindset that DEI is not “one-size-fits-all” and that your DEI efforts benefit most by being personalized for individuals and teams.