Written By: Schane D. Coker, AFC®, FFC®
What does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have to do with Financial Literacy and Education? Why does AFCPE need a Taskforce dedicated to this topic? How does Diversity, Equity, or Inclusion affect my life or the work I do with clients? These are some questions that I pose to myself when I have to find the motivation to engage in conversations about justice and access in Financial Literacy or when attending webinars on current societal affairs.
As an African American male, these questions are simple for me to answer with certainty and clarity. But for those who don’t share my race, gender, or may know prejudice and oppression by another name, these questions can trigger avoidance or superficial responses that temporarily appease the conscious mind, but continue to plague them subconsciously. Financial practitioners possess the natural ability to engage in the work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by way of the professional skillset and motivations we tap into when working with clients.
A practitioner’s desire to educate and advocate for financial wellbeing, growth, and prosperity share the same roots with those who educate and advocate for the overall wellbeing, growth, and prosperity through societal change. The way we show support to clients that create a plan of action when dealing with rising consumer debt is the same way in which community leaders come together to support residents to create a plan of action to deal with issues of safety and freedom from harm. Financial practitioners that educate future homeowners about the homebuying process are similar to activists that educate the general population about how to protest injustices to marginalized communities and raise awareness about these issues.
Through counseling, planning, and education, we as financial practitioners hold the power to help our clients create their own financial reality. Utilizing these same attributes, how can we engage with others in taking up the task and obligation of creating social change?
Start from where you are. Sometimes the answers are right in front of you. Get involved in a cause that you feel passionate about and strengthens your values and principles. If you’re searching for a cause to support use Google to research topics and issues that you want to learn more about or that people you spend time with are already supporting. This also provides another opportunity for you to see where your beliefs or values are rooted in based on what you uncover. This step should be utilized when looking for new causes to support or if some causes that you currently support no longer serve you.
Acknowledge that learning about a particular cause will bring about some discomfort. This discomfort can range from being bearable to uncomfortable as well as temporary to perpetual.
It’s innate for us to pull away from something that isn’t pleasant or presents a direct contradiction to some morals, beliefs, or values on which we were raised. The cure to withstanding the discomfort is to lean into it. Sitting and digesting why we feel uncomfortable with things that we have either read or heard can produce benefits that will outlast the discomfort. Leaning in also provides growth and strengthens awareness that will amplify your skillset as a financial practitioner.
Educate others about what you already know or have learned. Passion is contagious and when you speak to something that you care about, you inspire others to get involved in order to find that same passion. Part of learning about and participating in a cause that you value is educating those around you about why you value it. The best type of support you can give to a cause is by speaking to it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is ingrained in the work we do as financial practitioners when working with individuals and communities to provide them with information and possibilities to combat their financial concerns. Assisting clients from diverse backgrounds is a unique superpower that we as practitioners can cultivate and nurture. Having a taskforce within AFCPE dedicated to helping build these characteristics can help us as financial practitioners deepen the impact we strive for in the financial lives of our clients and society at large.
#justiceforGeorgeFloyd #justiceforBreonnaTaylor #justiceforAhmaudArbery #justiceforTonyMcDade #financialinclusion #diversity #equity