Marlene Shields OBE, Chief Executive of Capital Credit Union talks about the importance of diversity and inclusion at Capital and how it runs through every aspect of their organisation, from its culture and policies to decisions on their new office.
If we start from the principle that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is about recognising that we are all different, we don’t all have the same needs and that bringing different perspectives together can be a major benefit to an organisation, then there is your answer! Resoundingly YES, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is very important, and here is why.
For Capital Credit Union creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is like breathing, it is such a natural thing to do. Having an inclusive culture is also about creating and sustaining life; creating life in the workplace is a key factor of what makes a business successful.
I have heard D&I described as “diversity is about being invited to the party and inclusion is about being asked to take part, sing, dance or tell a story”. Bringing life to the party, creating something that people want to be part of, means that we can attract and retain talent.
Getting back to a work context, bringing together colleagues with diverse backgrounds, different perspectives, unique outlooks and creating a culture that respects everyone, encourages creativity. It’s also a culture where people feel valued and want to be part of it.
As a member driven organisation, which puts people at the heart of what we do, creating a workplace that encourages and supports our people is extremely important and it gives us a sense of pride in what we do. Our members come from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and different economic circumstances, and we need to ensure we understand all their needs. Having people in our team, and on our Board, that share the same values as our members helps us to stand out as people can align themselves with us, which makes us a more successful organisation.
I am proud that Capital was the first credit union, and first mutual, to sign up to the Women in Finance Charter. We value people and if any demographic is under-represented, we will work hard to address the balance. Creating opportunities, irrespective of gender, beliefs or background, is who we are. Supporting the Charter therefore made sense as it’s aligned with our values.
Investing in our people is another priority at Capital. We invest in training and development and in ensuring our people feel valued, knowing their voice is important and being heard. We do this by putting our people first. We have a workplace and policies that support our people as individuals, whether this is through working hours, hybrid working, social interactions, or physical and mental wellbeing support.
Capital Credit Union recently moved to a new building that has been renovated with people in mind. We know, however, that the move is about more than just having a nice building. With every step of the journey to our new home we considered the impact on our members and the surrounding areas. From decisions on the décor to accessibility for our members we asked ourselves, do we have good walks, are we close to good transport links, is there plenty of green spaces, are we near shops, does the local community support diversity. All of these questions were important for us to determine if our new would home would help support our community, whether we can do local outreach and if we could make a difference in our community by using our resources. All of these things add value to our credit union.
So back to our original question, is diversity and inclusion important? YES is the answer, on every level, it makes us who we are.