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What is Corporate Responsibility? Is Your Bank Committed to It?

Organizations are expanding their focus on a profit-driven bottom line to one of corporate social responsibility (CSR) — or acting in the best interest of society or the environment. Investing in the needs of local communities, supporting causes and ensuring employee welfare shape an organization into an ethical, driving force for social good.

So, what is corporate responsibility? Learn more about CSR, organizations (including credit unions) leading the movement, the role of transparency and the critical need to implement diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

Corporate social responsibility centers around a mission to enact social and environmental change in global and local communities. It’s about expanding a business model, leveraging a company’s position and designating resources to share success and give to the greater good. So many issues and needs exist in our world today — and an increasing number of organizations are joining the social responsibility movement to make the world a better place.

Leaders in the Movement

TOMS, a footwear and accessories retailer, and Patagonia, an outdoor retailer, are both one of the most widely known companies committed to driving change.

Global Impact: TOMS entered into the global impact scene with its innovative one-for-one giving strategy. They were the original One for One® company that gave away shoes for every pair purchased. After giving away nearly 100 million shoes to people in need, TOMS grew its mission to improve lives by giving away $1 for every $3 they make through their Giving Fund.

Saving the Planet: Patagonia serves as a powerful organizational activist that responds to critical environmental issues. Its 1% of the Planet group provides financial resources to protect the environment by giving 1% of its annual sales to grassroots environmental groups. Other efforts include connecting individuals to local action groups through Patagonia Action Works, sharing informative content and supporting employees who are Global Sports Activists®

Credit Unions, Too!

Financial institutions also care deeply about serving as socially responsible organizations. Credit unions in particular craft business models dedicated to redistributing earnings they make back into the community. CSR commitments could be donations to nonprofits, volunteerism, providing necessities to those in need or acts of kindness that brighten someone’s day.

Credit unions also prioritize giving back to their members through offers like Free Checking, lower rates, perks like cashback bonuses and sweepstakes, and financial literacy to help people in the community become more financially educated and secure. So, in addition to offering financial products, services and support, credit unions serve as strong sources of generosity and philanthropy.

Better Banking for What Matters Most

  • Members: One of the many highlights of joining a credit union is that since members own a piece of it, they get to be a part of social initiatives simply through their membership. Like customers who purchase a pair of TOMS shoes or Patagonia sleeping bag, members can feel good knowing they’re doing good by banking with a credit union
  • Employees: The community and members aren’t the only ones who benefit from a credit union’s benevolent nature. Credit unions often play a socially responsible role for their employees too. By giving back internally, employees can be aware of how much their hard work and passion to help are appreciated. Investing in employees encourages a culture of pride, engagement, high morale and commitment to a common purpose.
  • Taking Care of Members and the Community: Credit unions differentiate themselves from banks because, in one word, they care. They’re compassionate about the needs of members who struggle with their financial situation. By expressing empathy and understanding, credit unions personally help individuals make smart decisions to get on the right track or achieve their goals. Credit unions definitely care about the community too by locally sharing compassion, kindness and generosity.

Value of Transparency

Organizations are held accountable for their charitable activities. Those believing in purpose over profit are expected to disclose their acts of charity and socially responsible investments, which represents honesty, openness and authenticity. Sharing stories can also capture the hearts of the public while creating trust and loyalty between brands and customers (or members). For instance, TOMS’ Impact Report and Highlights are available to download online. Patagonia’s website is a massive repository of social responsibility information. And credit unions, like Desert Financial, share the many ways they give back through videos, articles and social channels.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

More and more companies are integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) into their social responsibility and business strategy.

  • Diversity represents differences including race, age, socioeconomic status, physical ability and more. Research by Quantum Workplace found that cognitive diversity — differences in thought, values and personalities — can “enhance team innovation by up to 20%.”1
  • Equity ensures all employees are empowered and treated fairly. All needs from various demographic groups are understood, addressed and met to support their success. Essentially, equity describes how all employees perform on a level playing field.
  • Inclusion refers to respecting and valuing all employees. Inclusion creates an engaging culture of connection and belonging. Differences are welcomed and employees have “equal access to opportunities and resources” to support their achievement.2

Organizations understand that adopting DEI practices help employees become high performers within a supportive and collaborative environment built to sustain morale, satisfaction and motivation.

At Desert Financial, we’re deeply committed to DEI and continue to bolster these principles while supporting employees, members and communities across Arizona. Positive social change is an ongoing process. Desert Financial took the next step by co-sponsoring the Filene Institute’s Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — a “think tank for incubating new ideas through research and education that influences policy and best practices in the credit union movement.”3

About Desert Financial’s Social Responsibility

Desert Financial believes in taking advantage of its strong position to help make lives better externally and internally — from supporting members striving for financial security and giving back to the community to taking care of its employees and stepping in during a crisis. Sharing success is at the heart of Desert Financial! It means making a difference by performing Random Acts of Kindness, investing in employees and helping the community.

Credit unions do more than you think! Find out six surprising ways we can help.



The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.