For years, the organization has operated its Better Fedder Committee, which is comprised of employees from across the Association who volunteer to lead recognition events, professional development activities and employee feedback initiatives to ensure the bank’s values are lived out each day.
Approximately three years ago, the bank’s senior leadership team saw an opportunity to enhance and maximize its culture-building work by implementing a robust DEI program. There are several goals for the bank’s program, which include:
- Recruiting and retaining a more diverse workforce and customer base;
- Ensuring human resource practices are equitably implemented;
- Making sure all employees have the opportunity for growth and development;
- Products and services reach into underrepresented communities/groups;
- Ensuring diverse vendors are utilized,
- Developing a mentorship program; and
- Investing in community programs that serve the unique needs of all people in our community.
For OlyFed this is not an initiative but a long-term commitment to enculturate DEI into the bank’s DNA, so that the organization continues to grow, learn, advance and change along with the needs of the community.
“We believe our neighbors and communities should have equitable access to opportunities to allow them to flourish in all their life endeavors,” Abby Ferrari, AVP/Learning & Development Manager and OlyFed DEI Committee Chair said.
“We choose to take responsibility for making positive change happen and we are committed to nurturing a welcoming work and business environment.”
The bank started its DEI efforts by consulting with local experts who helped develop a framework for a successful plan to deliver equitable outcomes and organizational transformation. This plan included training and education opportunities for all staff so that everyone on the OlyFed team understood the organization’s goals and could speak and share their backgrounds and experiences for the benefit of each other.
Along with a comprehensive training program, the bank formed a DEI Committee to uphold OlyFed’s values and to drive the organization’s efforts to cultivate an equitable and inclusive environment. Members of the committee applied to be a part of the team and represent a variety of departments and positions from across the Association.
“This is a great professional development opportunity for members of our committee, who have the chance to sharpen their leadership skills as they provide their own unique perspectives on how we can improve the way we listen to the voices of our community and be allies for meaningful social change,” Ferrari, said.
One of the goals for the DEI Committee is to roll out a monthly focus on a particular topic so that OlyFed employees can grow in their awareness and knowledge of culture, race and ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomics, physical and mental health and much more. The bank has used these monthly education opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth, Veteran’s Day, Pride Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Disability Awareness Month, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, and a host of other vital focus areas.
Another important matter to OlyFed is developing and delivering products and services that serve all members of the community and that are affordable, accessible and socially responsible. The bank recently did research and learned that more than 17,000 people living in Thurston County are either unbanked or under-banked, meaning they utilize high-fee credit or check-cashing services. OlyFed’s Product Development Team responded by creating the bank’s new Community Checking program that not only includes a customized account designed to meet the needs of the unbanked and underbanked in the region, it also includes a robust financial education program focused on budgeting, managing credit and account security.
The Community Checking program complements the bank’s Affordable Homebuyer Program, which is designed to help low-to-moderate income individuals and families realize the dream of homeownership.
“Our goal is to not only advocate for the advancement of our neighbors and community members, but it’s also to collaborate and innovate new ideas that help all people in the South Sound prosper,” Ferrari said.
Ferrari also shared about the bank’s Two Cent program, which provides two cents to a different designated nonprofit each month for every customer debit card transaction. The program has provided more than $100,000 in charitable support to more than 35 local nonprofits in the past three years.
In fact, last year OlyFed contributed more than $445,000 in philanthropic support to the community of which approximately 35% of the bank’s donations assisted local nonprofits with a DEI-focused mission of recruiting and serving a diverse population.
“While we’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the past few years, we recognize there is still much more work to do and lots of room for us to grow,” Ferrari said.
“What I love about OlyFed is how we’re committed to doing the right thing and putting people first in an authentic and genuine manner.”