For ACU, Pride radiates outward

Cristina McCourt, Financial Account Manager Trainee at ACU

“I’ve always wanted to instill a change in the world for the better,” says Cristina McCourt, Financial Account Manager Trainee and member of the ACU Pride Committee, an employee-led resource group building understanding of and empathy for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.

ACU at Winnipeg Pride March

For the first time, Cristina walked alongside a large group of ACU employees at Pride Winnipeg’s Rally and Parade on Sunday, June 2.

“It was very emotional. I talked to so many people and met so many incredible individuals. I heard their stories, who they are, and why they were there,” she explains.

“The strides they had to make to be comfortable being who they are … some of them were even forced to say goodbye to their families.”

Taking an active role in positive change

“I’m a mom, so I am very emotional regarding family and children. The stories were so touching, and the people were so resilient. It made me so proud to be part of the walk.”

Though Cristina does not identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, she identifies as an ally. Her commitment to fostering inclusivity and educating herself and others led her to join the ACU Pride Committee and help with the events and programming they coordinate for the community and ACU employees.

“There’s always so many headlines about rules and regulations barring this community from their basic rights, but I want to be front and centre in countering that with positive change,” Cristina says. “The Pride Committee was created to help employees learn, and I wanted to learn to be more inclusive and respectful of others.”

“It’s really helped with my own self-growth and education,” she continues. “The more I know, the more I can radiate that knowledge outward to my friends and family, including my kids.”

Pride is more than a parade at ACU

Cristina said the lead-up to Pride was both a sprint and a marathon for her and the committee.

“We try not to limit our participation and programming to May and June. At ACU, Pride is year-round, but this time of year gives us one of the biggest opportunities to raise awareness and educate employees. We put a lot of time and effort into planning the event.”

ACU at Winnipeg Pride March

In its second year, the ACU Pride Committee was very impressed at the level of participation and support from employees, from the front lines all the way up to executive leadership.

“The last three to four months were a hard push to get employees aware, excited and registered for events,” Cristina explains.

ACU at Winnipeg Pride March

“We had an amazing turnout for the parade. It was an excellent increase in numbers from last year and our employees are much more aware of the event. However, for the committee, there’s still a lot of work to do to provide resources and education.”

Head, heart, hand: Inside ACU’s work to foster inclusivity

Part of the ACU Pride Committee’s mandate is to provide education and programming for employees.

Nishu Brar, Branch Manager at ACU

“Our mission is to foster an environment of respect, inclusivity and acceptance where everyone can bring their whole selves to work,” says Nishu Brar, a branch manager and committee member. “We’re committed to creating a safe and supportive workplace for all employees regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Committee chair Austin West expands on that sentiment by sharing the group’s “head, heart, hand” model.

Austin West, ACU Pride Committee Chair

“We spend a lot of time educating, increasing knowledge around the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” he says. “We hope that through education and experiences, we touch the heart, which then leads to action through the hand. We’re ensuring a safe environment filled with empathy and compassion, and it leads to direct action not only from our employees but also from our membership base.”

Sabrina Govier, ACU’s Director of People Solutions

Sabrina Govier, ACU’s Director of People Solutions, says supporting groups like the ACU Pride Committee is part of helping the credit union live up to its commitment to inclusivity in all aspects.

“Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is one we are proud of,” says Sabrina. “But more importantly, it’s the intentional, meaningful actions we take every day as an organization that demonstrate our commitment.” “It starts with organizational commitment, of course, but it’s our actions that hold us accountable,” she continues. “It’s about saying what we do and doing what we say.”

Looking for rewarding career opportunities at ACU?

A commitment to diversity

ACU’s commitment statement in hiring and recruitment states that the credit union is “committed to workforce diversity and actively recruiting people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, reflecting the communities in which we live and work.”

Sabrina says this commitment is integrated into all aspects of ACU.

“We are always actively building an inclusive culture where all employees feel safe and respected and where all employees can bring their authentic selves to work each day.”

ACU supports the Pride Committee and other employee resource groups at all levels of the organization. Each committee has an executive sponsor and financial support budgeted each year. Employees participating on committees are empowered to create, lead and execute plans for providing the resources and education they decide on.

“We support our employee-led committees by showing up, being allies and committing to learn and grow as individuals—personally and professionally,” Sabrina explains. “These committees do great work. They make meaningful experiences for our employees and other members of our communities. We wouldn’t be where we are today in our DEI journey without them.”

Supporting employees, supporting the community

While ACU is committed to equipping its employees to better understand the lives and needs of those identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+, its support doesn’t stop at its office doors.

Sponsoring Pride Winnipeg for over a decade, providing specialized financial advice for 2SLGBTQIA+ members and working with community organizations like the Rainbow Resource Centre are just a few ways ACU works to serve the community.

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Read: How ACU helps its LGBTQ2S+ members invest in themselves and their futures

Get advice that aligns with your values.

In the summer of 2023, the Rainbow Resource Centre moved into its new home at the site of the former Klinic building on Broadway. Design, fundraising and construction plans are also underway for a four-storey independent living seniors’ apartment complex for underserved 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors next door to the new headquarters, which will be enabled in part by ACU’s Community Financial Centre.

Noreen Mian, Winnipeg Rainbow Resource Centre Executive Director

“ACU is so community focused, and they really care about their non-profit members,” says Noreen Mian, the Rainbow Resource Centre’s Executive Director. “I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels knowing that when I call ACU, the person I’m talking to is so understanding of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.”

While ACU’s commitment to supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community flows through all it does, for Cristina and the many other employees who joined her at the Pride Rally and Parade, participating in the event drove that commitment home.

“It was a very surreal moment,” Cristina says. “Going into the day, I knew it would be full of emotions, I just didn’t really know what kind. Everyone was smiling and dancing. I can’t wait to go back next year.”

Interested in learning more about ACU’s values in action?

Become a member today! Join ACU!

Read more Manitoba community stories on ACU’s Asterisk blog.

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About Jacob Marks

Jacob Marks is a writer and communications professional based in Winnipeg, MB. Experienced with diverse clients and across sectors, he specializes in issues management, brand management and telling compelling stories no matter the medium.

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