CUES Podcast
CUES Podcast
Jan 7, 2022
CUES 125: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a Differentiator—an Interview With Steve Bugg
Play • 40 min

CUES member Steve Bugg is very clear that the diversity, equity and inclusion journey that his credit union is on makes his organization stand out in the competitive financial services market and for talent as well. 

“We know today everybody says they deliver great number service or customer service, have to have competitive products or services, and have to have a great technology plan,” says Bugg, president/CEO of $1 billion Great Lakes Credit Union in Illinois, which was recently named the first-ever CUES DEI: Catalyst for Change Award winner. “But if everybody else can say the same thing, and a lot of institutions that we compete against ... can outspend us, what’s the one thing that makes us unique and different? This is what it is: It’s our initiatives and our efforts under DEI.

“We all know there’s a war for talent right now as well,” Bugg adds in this episode of the CUES Podcast. “And where we sit in the suburbs of Chicago … our employees can look at ... other financial institutions or other companies. … So we’ve got to tie what we do into a cause. … And if we can then appeal to those that are out there looking for opportunities ... and can see the greater good, they’re going to be more loyal employees, because they have that in their heart.”

While the formal business reasons for embarking on a DEI journey are clear, Bugg says it’s actually the DEI lens’ positive impact on his CU's members and communities that most motivates him. 

“So certainly we’ve helped a lot of individuals and small businesses throughout GLCUs field of membership gain access to additional products and services, education, and in some cases, even basic resources through COVID," he says in the show. "We really helped with the three most vulnerable needs that we were seeing our community, which were housing relief, food relief, and then also support of minority-owned businesses. 

“And an initiative that percolated out of that was an opportunity to work on an incubator project ...  We were the only financial institution that came to the table ... to help in this incubator project. ... Now those business owners are up and running. … Even though bringing all these initiatives together is recent for us at Great Lakes, we can already see the impact that that’s made in a very short time.”

In the show, Bugg also suggests that starting your DEI journey may not be so scary as you think. Many CUs have a long history of serving a variety of members well. Bugg says GLCU has been doing its best to meet the unique needs of each of its members for the eight decades since its founding. Its current DEI journey simply formalizes and centralizes something that already existed. 

Another interesting outcome of the DEI journey for GLCU has been its new view of partnerships. The CU now asks about a company's commitment to DEI to see if it aligns well with the CU's. It also has established mutually beneficial partnerships with community organizations.

Learn more about all this, plus hear about the great tie Bugg wore when accepting the award when you tune in to the show.

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