A year ago, Navy Federal decided to formally prioritize something that’s been an informal focus of ours since our founding: respect and equality for all. As an organization, we looked at what was happening in the world and saw a need for us to be more deliberate in how we show up for our members and team members.
That prompted us to look inward and ask ourselves what more we could be doing. We wondered how we could create greater support and empathy across the entire organization, including the communities we live and serve in. Out of those questions came the formation of our official Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) program.
I have the honor to lead this program and bring my own experiences as an African-American woman to this role. I recognize I have challenges and privileges that many haven’t, putting me in a unique position to help create better outcomes and a greater sense of belonging for others. I’m proud to share with you all the progress we’ve made so far.
Where We Are
Truthfully, we weren’t ready to start talking about D&I in the workplace until we did. To get our program off the ground, we had to start by having some tough conversations. With full support of our leadership, though, we dove headfirst into the work ahead.
For us, that meant reinforcing our efforts to build a diverse and inclusive work environment and providing visibility and support for our members. We serve and employ people from all different cultures, ethnicities, ages and genders. Taking steps to ensure they have a sense of belonging and see themselves reflected in our values and business is critical.
A huge part of the work we’ve done is establishing and extending relationships with organizations in the communities we’re part of. This has many parts. We work with groups like Women in Technology, Achieve Escambia and various historically Black colleges and universities to champion greater access and career advancement for minority groups. We’re proud to include these groups in our talent acquisition pipeline as well.
At the same time, we also connect with community and social groups, inviting them in to give us greater insight into the work they’re doing. This has allowed our employees to broaden their perspective and awareness of communities, opportunities and needs. A few of those we’ve had the pleasure of hosting include the African-American Credit Union Coalition, the Human Rights Coalition and National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America.
To provide us with expertise beyond our own, we’ve also leveraged partnerships with external leaders in the D&I space to help us shape our program for success. Additionally, we’ve expanded our corporate social responsibility, giving efforts to support groups whose missions align with our own.
Tapping Into Our Teams
Another key part of the work we’ve done so far is giving our employees the chance to share their own experiences. Through focused dialogue and surveys, we gathered their candid and valuable feedback on relevant D&I topics. These sounding boards allowed us to better understand how to honor the communities, cultures and people that make up our organization. By pairing that with organizational data, we were also able to better understand where we are and help set our priorities for the future.
As I shared before, demonstrating respect and care for all has been a priority of the credit union throughout our history. We recognized, though, that there are ways we can make the commitment clearer. A big part of that is visibility. By honoring cultural observances and highlighting opportunities for awareness both internally and externally, we’re working toward more loudly affirming our support for diverse groups.
Where We’re Headed
In order to make the most impact with our D&I efforts, we have to have a strong foundation to build from. We’re confident that what we’re creating will grow far beyond partnerships, feedback and visibility. As we’ve worked on those, we’ve also been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to bring the D&I lens to all areas of our business operations.
We know that there’s more work that can be done. Our aim is to continue growing and learning—to be that layer of support for our employees and to better serve our members and communities. D&I is part of our culture, and the efforts we’re taking now will further deepen and sustain that focus.
Author Bio: Tynika Wilson is senior vice president of Debit Card and Funds Services at Navy Federal Credit Union. She is based at our Northern Virginia campus. Tynika directs and oversees the resources, systems, managers, and team members responsible for Navy Federal’s debit card operations and electronic payment related services, including ACH and Federal Wire functions.
Tynika is also the inaugural Chairperson of Navy Federal’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Initiative, launched in June 2020. Together with a Committee of 12 leaders from across the credit union, plus a large team of volunteer Champions, Tynika is forging Navy Federal’s D&I program. This new and exciting initiative actively promotes a culture of respect and equality, strengthening our work communities through training, activities, and other resources designed to educate and empower us all.