Monday, March 10, 2014


How do you feel about diversity?
One of the interesting buzz words creating a good bit of angst within our society these days is "diversity". That one word can draw a lot of heat, depending on who you are, what you look like, where you come from, and how you view the world.  Discussing diversity is akin to playing with dynamite - beware of short fuses and explosive reactions! 

What's the problem?  Diversity at heart is a synonym for fairness, isn't it?  And, who could be against that? Well, sometimes it can get a little complicated!  
Life is not a "bell curve",
it's far more
 "robust" !

Many times fairness is difficult to judge, especially when it isn't clear how the difference between good, better, and best is measured.  Being experienced human beings, we often suspect the worst.  Could advancement in a career be as much about "who you know", as "what you know" - or, despite the law, wrongfully biased by one's race or gender?

Touchy topic for sure!  Assume you have read that the Dodd-Frank legislation has a whole section on the issue of "regulating" diversity at all levels within the credit union movement. Going to be some interesting - perhaps divisive - times, some difficult - perhaps unanswerable - questions, some hurt - perhaps bitter - feelings.

Unite for Good !
Looked at our largest trade association, CUNA, the other day - especially in regard to the diversity of its 24-person Board.  The CUNA Board is elected from 6 geographic areas of the Country.  Each area elects 4 Board members: one from CUs with less than 25,000 members, one from CUs with 25,000 to 94,000 members, one from CUs with more than 94,000 members, and one chosen from among the league presidents in the area.

While each of the three credit union categories ("small, medium, large") represents hundreds, even thousands of credit unions and literally millions of individual credit union members; that last category of league directors is chosen from a potential pool of just 40 people.

Six CUNA directors - 25% of all votes on the CUNA Board - are selected from a cast of no more than 40 people.  Let's see how that works out on the diversity front….

CUNA  "Class D" (for "diversity"?) are on your right.

(Well, after all, it is a (very) small pond.)


Anonymous said...

You would have failed your SAT if you marked diversity as a synonym for fairness.

Suggesting that diversity has anything to do with the word fairness is part of the problem. Words have meanings and when they are used to mean something other than what they are supposed to mean makes for major problems. There is no correlation between diversity and fairness, nor does diversity improve fairness.

Concern for fairness is not as important as a concern for justice. Fair or unfair usually depends on whose ox is getting gored.

Jim Blaine said...

So, what is a synonym for "diversity"?

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I do not have a synonym that fits your narrative. However, In researching the word I did find a suggestion that in old English around the 15 century the word diversity could have had the connotation of perversity or EVIL. Out of use this way by the 17 century.

Find it interesting that the Old Folks seemed to know something that we be concerned about when it comes to putting words like diversity on the pedestal.

Jim Blaine said...

"Evil and perverse"...

Did I mention dynamite?

Anonymous said...

Affirmative Action: the purposeful utilization of discrimination, the very thing you are trying to atone.

Jim Blaine said...

Lighting a short fuse...

Stuart Perlitsh, CEO said...

Class A, B & C each have 6 elected Directors. How many credit unions are represented in Class A, B & C. It appears there are quite a few credit unions in Class A and yet they have the same number of Directors as Class C with far fewer credit unions. And how much dues are each of the Classes contributing to CUNA? Is director representation based on dues paid from the Class? Is representation based on the number of credit unions in the Class? How much are these directors being compensated?

Jim Blaine said...

As of September 30, 2013*:
(*NCUA is LATE again with the 12/31 #'s.)

Class A (<25,000 members): 5,961 credit unions

Class B (>25,000<94,000 members): 613 credit unions

Class C (>94,000 members): 179 credit unions

It's a little difficult to answer how "representation" is determined - at least from a "cooperative principles" perspective...