The recent events in the United States—no, this time, not COVID-19—the recent events surrounding the urgent call for equality led me back to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from a Birmingham jail. I often return to this brilliant piece of literary history, from which I find great guidance and direction, but never so much as I have recently.
In his letter, dated April 16, 1963, he wrote: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” Never have truer words been spoken of these, our United States, or indeed the world. But we should also take an important lesson from these words for the organizations that we lead.
I hear so much lately about organizations and boards—particularly in the credit union space—taking up the cause of “DEI,” or diversity, equity and inclusion. In fact, in our 2020 State of Credit Union Governance, diversity was listed as the highest priority when recruiting new board members among those surveyed. As those at BoardSource, a national organization working to empower boards and inspire leadership, say, “As the decision-making body at the highest level of organizational leadership, boards play a critical role in creating an organization that prioritizes, supports and invests in equity, diversity and inclusion.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
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