Our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity
First West Credit Union and its brands Island Savings, Envision Financial, Valley First, Enderby & District Financial, First West Capital and the First West Foundation exist to help our members and communities thrive.
Our foundational values, better known as our Big Ideals—to succeed together, act local, create remarkable experiences and lead with courage—demand that we, as an organization, actively strive for equity, inclusion and diversity. We believe that racism—including anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and anti-Asian racism—as well as sexism, homophobia and discrimination have no place in our organization, our communities or our society.
We also believe that community-based organizations like First West have an opportunity to contribute to creating a more equitable, inclusive and diverse future for everyone. We believe in cultivating an environment in which every one of our employees, members and community partners—both present and future—is valued for their uniqueness and is empowered to thrive.
Compelled by our Big Ideals and our longstanding cooperative ethos, we took our first steps as an organization in 2017 to embark on a journey actively pursuing greater equity, inclusivity and diversity. We challenged ourselves to begin moving beyond aspiration toward genuine commitment—of our time, our talent and our resources as an organization.
As we continue on this journey today, we are learning that meaningful progress requires sustained dedication. We are discovering more questions than answers. We are realizing the importance of listening before speaking. We are recognizing that authentic equity, inclusion and diversity are not found in outward appearances—including written statements like this one—but rather in real action and inward commitment that affects the daily choices we make, and the activities we prioritize. We are acknowledging that we have so much more work to do.
Every day we are making progress. Actions speak louder than words and some examples of the things we are doing today include:
- Providing ongoing equity, inclusion and diversity training for all employees, including senior leadership and our board of directors—backed by additional support and resources.
- Enabling a cross-functional equity, inclusion and diversity workgroup within our organization to better embed our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity, and improving representation and involvement in our organization.
- Fostering affinity groups that bring together groups of employees with shared qualities or experiences in spaces where they feel safe voicing systemic issues that our organization can address.
- Improving our recruiting processes to remove barriers and biases that may exist and striving with our members and employees to use language that is informed, inclusive and respectful.
- Investing in our physical spaces to make them more inclusive and accessible for our members and employees.
- Engaging some of Canada’s leading experts and advocacy groups in the field of organizational diversity, equity and inclusion to inform our short- and long-term strategies.
Our values impel us to continue with and build upon these actions. Our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity is ongoing, and there is much more to do. We are striving to sharpen our awareness and our focus, actively working to educate ourselves on how we can continually be better. The kind of systemic change we want to be part of can only be realized through a deliberate, long-term investment in relationship building backed by meaningful action. Whether you are a member or an employee—present or future—we invite you to join us in this journey and to let us know what support you need to participate with us.