As community inclusion manager at Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Angela Weekley and her team work with departments across the company to build relationships and ensure underserved populations are reached through financial literacy programs, specialty products and community investments.
“Veridian has a long history of celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion,” Weekley said. “While talking the talk is important, we’re intentional about taking action that ensures we walk the walk. That’s what led to the creation of my position, and it’s been the focus of my work ever since.”
Weekley started working at a Veridian branch while attending Wartburg College in nearby Waverly. After earning her bachelor’s degree in education, she worked for more than 10 years helping underrepresented students get to college. She then earned a master’s degree and returned to Veridian in her current role.
“Inclusion can’t be limited to an annual, companywide training,” Weekley said. Training sessions are valuable, and they’re a starting place. Training is talking the talk.
“To be effective, inclusion must become a permanent part of a business’ culture,” she said. “Start walking the walk by identifying whether your audiences mirror the diversity of the communities you serve. If not, get to work on filling the gaps.”
Weekley cites Reygan Freeney as a mentor. They went to high school together, then she ended up working for Freeney at the University of Northern Iowa. Today, Freeney is a scientist designing personal protective gear for the U.S. Army.
“She invested in her employees’ growth both while we worked for her and as a mentor as we transitioned to other opportunities,” Weekley said.
Weekley takes a similar approach in supporting her co-workers and customers.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“Employees want to feel comfortable bringing their entire selves to work, and members feel more welcome and valued when they can see themselves represented in our staff,” she said. “As an employer and as a financial partner, this is how we stay relevant.”
Weekley’s advice to other business leaders who wonder if inclusion is important?
“Inclusion matters because everyone deserves equitable — not equal — access to the resources needed to be successful,” she said. “It matters because we all benefit from encountering and understanding a wider variety of perspectives and worldviews.
“Without inclusion, you’re placing limits on yourself and your organization. Regardless of your industry, inclusion makes the most business sense. And put simply, it’s the right thing to do.”
Our communities, she added, “are becoming more diverse by age, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and more. That means attracting
the best talent and encouraging innovation will require inclusivity.” Outside of work, Weekley is a youth ministry volunteer and devoted aunt to her extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins. She was elected and served as a Waterloo school board member and is this year’s co-chair for the Cedar Valley United Way campaign.
She’s not ruling out a return to public office. “I love the work I get to do, the people I get to work with and the organization we get to represent,” she said.
When asked to share advice that matters?
“Treat people the way they want to be treated,” she said. “Everyone’s role is important — your title doesn’t change your importance.”