Rebekah Cid del Prado, Latino Community Credit Union
Upon returning from the NC Credit Union League’s Principles & Philosophies conference, I had the opportunity to reflect on the discussions and history that we learned. I took away several things that have helped me look at my work and the credit union movement in a very different light. I hope the top 10 things I learned at the Principles & Philosophies Conference will inspire others to gain a greater appreciation for, and participate more actively in, the cooperative movement.
10. The goal is the same as when the movement started.
While I knew that credit unions had the potential to positively impact communities, I didn’t realize the origins were so reminiscent of the reality today. The challenges in the communities served at Latino Community Credit Union, including marginalization from the mainstream financial system, are very similar to those from 100 years ago. It was powerful to tie our credit union’s mission to that of the credit union movement, and its powerful and inspiring history. It helped me recognize the responsibility I have to continue and support the values of the movement.
9. The credit union movement is social and community development at its finest.
The credit union movement and its principles and philosophies serve as an international model for other cooperative initiatives. Before, I understood the importance of credit unions in providing ethical financial products to the communities they serve, but during the conference, I learned that the credit union model also serves as an example to other development initiatives. The credit union movement and its principles and philosophies are long standing endeavors that cross borders, socio-economic levels with the intention to serve the good of all.
8. Doing the right thing isn’t anything new.
Many of us are accustomed to watching the news and hearing about the difficulties many in the world face. However, the Principles & Philosophies are a great reminder that those within the cooperative movement work tirelessly to rectify some of these stark inequities and provide ethical economic opportunity for all.
7. Credit unions are a quiet force in the world with great potential.
As a credit union professional, and member of the community, I’ve learned that credit unions are a quiet force that needs a louder voice. While I understand the importance of credit unions throughout the world, I don’t believe that as an industry and movement that we are loud enough in helping others see what we do and why it’s so important. There is a great potential for credit unions to reach a wider audience and gain even more momentum as a movement.
6. Those who are a part of the movement often don’t even know it.
My first financial institution experience was at a credit union. My parents have been credit union members most of their lives, and as a child I thought they belonged to a bank. My parents called it a bank, so I followed suit. Now, when I hear them say they are going to the bank, I remind them that they are credit union member-owners. They tease me and say, “It’s the same thing.” I quickly respond, “No! It isn’t!” It’s worth reminding current members and employees of the strong value in being part of a cooperative financial institution.
5. The story needs to be shared with a sense of urgency.
The credit union story needs to be passed on to current and future generations! If we aren’t equipped to the spread the cooperative movement history, principles and philosophies far and wide, then we run the risk of losing momentum. We have a responsibility to spread the word and create advocates, particularly amongst those who are already part of the movement.
4. I have a personal responsibility to share the cooperative movement principles and philosophies with others.
The responsibility for me to personally share this story extends beyond my role in Latino Community Credit Union.
3. Everyone who is a part of the cooperative movement needs to attend this conference.
The conference is eye-opening, even for those who have been longtime employees of the credit union. Credit unions should add this conference as a strong tool in staff development to ensure that employees at all levels of the organization better understand their role in this movement.
2. The cooperative movement and its principles and philosophies should be included in onboarding and internal communication strategies.
All credit union representatives who have attended the Principles and Philosophies conference have a responsibility to indoctrinate new employees with the principles and reinforce these key messages consistently through internal communication.
1. If we don’t share the story now, who will?
One of the discussions that we had during the conference was our story and how it fits into the overall cooperative movement. It was a powerful exercise that emphasizes value of the cooperative movement story. If we don’t share our story within the context of the cooperative movement, we run the risk of losing the entire story that our predecessors have worked so hard to maintain. When we share our story, we also share the cooperative movement story. Storytelling is powerful and can be used to greatly benefit us all as a reminder of why we do this work and keep the credit union principles and history alive.