Steve Bugg, GLCU’s President and CEO, recently explained the importance and commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to all GLCU employees. Below is his message:


Good Afternoon Everyone –


With events occurring nationally for many years, and even more recently, I thought it very timely and prudent to update everyone on DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) at Great Lakes Credit Union.  The executive leadership team and board of directors over the last several years identified a need to better define our long-term strategy around DEI.    DEI can certainly have different definitions to many of us, so to clarify, here are our definitions. 


  • Diversity broadly is to encompass the demographic mix of the communities that we serve; including our members, potential members and employees 
    • Racial and ethnic communities are good examples of this
    • LGBT, Individuals with disabilities and Women also fit into our definition
    • Other human differences are also encompassed into our diversity definition as well as examples like small business owners and minority business owners to name a few
  • Equity is to improve justice, develop stronger impartiality and increase fairness within our procedures, processes and products / services, ensuring we develop resources that aid us in doing just this
  • Inclusion is the degree to which diversity plays into our decision-making and how fully those identified participate in the process


Great Lakes Credit Union has a long history of serving diverse communities and members and we are proud of our efforts in the past.  As GLCU looks forward, we are excited to continue to enhance our diversity efforts with even greater zeal to ensure we are representing and serving our diverse communities and employees to the best of our abilities.  Tackling equity issues requires an even greater understanding of the root causes of disparities.  An “all in” inclusive group is typically diverse versus a diverse group may or may not be totally “inclusive” of all subsets of diversity.  We acknowledge that DEI is a fairly new strategy for credit unions, just like it is for Great Lakes Credit Union.  However, we all should be proud of the efforts we have made in the past at GLCU regarding our DEI initiatives.  Our goal is simply to develop a more formal DEI strategy that is all encompassing, and act upon that goal.  We have made great strides in doing just this by having DEI as part of our strategic plan. 


A great recent example of DEI in action at GLCU is our merger with North Side last year and the importance of the diversity of the Uptown community, members served and how inclusive North Side was in determining whom to employ, what products / services to offer along with the associated policies, processes and procedures along with the relevance of how the non-profit foundation they formed aids in meeting equity goals / objectives.  Well, with GLCU’s scope, scale and breadth, we continue to utilize the merger as the next stepping off point for Great Lakes Credit Union in our strategy to enhance our DEI efforts.  Already, we have expanded our product / service offerings to the former North Side members to meet not only the needs of the Uptown community, but we also have utilized some of the enhancements to our product / service offerings with the entire GLCU membership base.  Another example is that The HUD-Certified Counseling Program has been expanded into Lake and McHenry counties with new emphasis on securing additional grants to aid all of our communities.  We are one of only 16 credit unions nationally to offer these sort of services.


In addition, we have already secured additional grants that are being utilized to expand our programs and recently secured $20 K in funding to aid in COVID-19 relief and donated $10 K each to the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Cool Ministries in Waukegan for their food bank efforts.  GLCU is also taking grant funding and income earned and earmarked these dollars for the two greatest needs right now, housing and food relief, due to COVID-19, and are partnering with the Lake County Community Foundation to properly disburse the much needed funds.


I also want to note that our recent relief efforts, due to COVID-19, fit well under our DEI umbrella.  Not only are we aiding all members impacted drastically by the fallout due to the pandemic as previously  communicated, but the numerous small businesses that we aided with the SBA Paycheck Protection Program fit under our DEI initiatives.  Through this effort, we obtained millions of dollars to infuse back into our local communities through the SBA PPP relief efforts that aided not only existing small business members, but also assisted several non-member small businesses that needed this funding in order to survive and were recommended to GLCU by a new partner that came through our outreach efforts.  This effort provided a “win-win” for the small businesses, our local communities and GLCU. 


Finally, but certainly not last, is the utilization of the local non-profit foundation that came along with the merger.  The foundation served the needs of a much smaller credit union well in the past and we are now embarking on a new and engaged focus on how we can better utilize this valuable asset in the future to aid our communities in a greater capacity under our DEI strategies.  Many exciting developments are well underway that will be announced formally when the final plans have been developed.  Rest assured that these efforts will fit the DEI strategy. 


The door has been opened widely at Great Lakes Credit Union with the expansion and formalization of our DEI efforts, and I welcome you all to walk through this open door with me as we continue to provide that exceptional “People Helping People” Philosophy GLCU and the credit union industry is known for and is needed more than any time before.


Thank you for serving our members in these turbulent times.



Steve Bugg

President and CEO

« Back to Articles