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A Direct Line Blog

Are You Guilty, Too?

May 10, 2023 7:30 am

By Donya Parrish, MCU VP- Risk Management

According to the World Health Organization, ageism “refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.” After sitting through an excellent session on the topic at a conference last month, I came away realizing I am guilty of this more often than I want to admit!

From a credit union perspective, it might be holding some of your credit unions back from having board members who are not retired or already past their lending years. That is not to suggest retired folks can’t be fabulous board members; but if your goal is to try to diversify your volunteer committees, it might start with intention to seek out younger board members.

In a 2018 Credit Union Directors newsletter, young board member Edith Cabrera-Tello was interviewed, and she offered some suggestions on where to start:

  • Look for committed young members who could benefit from a financial and personal experience and who are interested in giving back to their community;
  • Find outstanding local college students studying business with an emphasis in marketing, accounting, finance, or management;
  • Provide internship opportunities with an option to become a board member;
  • Search for young, energetic leaders in local nonprofit organizations; and
  • Think about how the young board member can connect you with emerging generations.

If I could add another, it would be to talk to the employees at your credit union about where they see up-and-coming professionals and difference-makers in the community. There might be groups or places you haven’t thought about for recruiting or attracting volunteers.

And that session I mentioned I attended? It started with a simple exercise that I think any organization could benefit from. We talked about myths and perceptions of older people and then of younger people. Each was then backed up with some surprising statistics that made those common myths feel like we may be overlooking opportunities. I came away more aware and continue to catch myself defaulting to those misperceptions too easily.

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