Rodney Hood may be the head of a federal agency, but as a Black man, that doesn’t make him immune from being pulled over by the police twice a year for no good reason.
“You all, I get stopped twice a year for driving, for doing nothing wrong,” the chairman of the National Credit Union Administration board said Thursday, during a web conference, “Discovery 2020,” sponsored by the CUNA Mutual Group.
Hood continued, “I’m not a speed demon or anything of that sort. I get stopped because the rationale is that if you stop someone who looks like me, there’s bound to be something that I’ve done wrong in the past.
The conference included a session featuring the heads of the various credit union trade groups, as well as Hood. And while part of the discussion centered on the response to the coronavirus crisis, the most riveting part of the discussion occurred when the group addressed the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Hood, who has been saying that financial inclusion is the civil rights issue of our lifetime, recently made the case for that position in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
“Before the George Floyd murder, I must say I would probably never have been so vocal about diversity, equity and inclusion in terms of some of the injustice that we’ve seen permeate society, but what made the George Floyd tragedy so horrific was that we all saw this egregious disregard for life play out, and before our very eyes,” he said.
The trade group heads agreed that George Floyd’s slaying galvanized their organizations, as it did the rest of the nation, and they said it has led to vital internal discussions about equity issues.
“We haven’t experienced [prejudice] the same way you have, and it takes us, as the pale white guys, to also stand up and say enough is enough, and to not just say it, but to walk the walk,” Credit Union National Association President/CEO Jim Nussle told Hood. “That’s why we’ve been encouraging credit unions, through our board retreats that we have, and our board conferences.”
That discussion must occur when credit union boards are developing their succession plans, Nussle said.
National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors President/CEO Lucy Ito said that the nation must focus on racial inequities but added that she hopes the discussion does not end there.
“I also hope that that leads to similar introspection for other groups,” she said. “Not everyone presents as a minority, but I have heard stories of folks, for example, who come from hearing disabled families, and the discrimination and lack of inclusion for different groups like that.”
The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions has scheduled a meeting for all staff later this week featuring Renée Sattiewhite, president/CEO of the African American Credit Union Coalition, NAFCU President/CEO B. Dan Berger said.
He added that the issues raised at that meeting cannot be forgotten once the meeting ends. “It has to be ongoing.,” he said. “You can’t put it on the back burner. You have to have these discussions and keep learning. Don’t tell them things. Learn. Be a sponge. Listen to what they’re talking about.”
CUNA Mutual President/CEO Robert Trunzo added the issue cannot be relegated to the back burner. “Clearly, now is the time to act on [diversity, equity, and inclusion] issues,” he said. “Action is critically important, both now and into the future, as we transition to the future, and we talk about vision and what we think the future will look like.”