I recently read about a fascinating book on a taboo subject: everyday people who break the rules for practical, everyday moral reasons.
Thousands, or even millions of ordinary people break the rules on a regular basis (often with severe career risks) simply to give someone else a chance at a decent life in the face of an unfair economy. Examples include a nurse who treats an uninsured patient, supervisors who help their employees adjust their schedules around child care, teachers who bring meals to hungry kids, or restaurant managers who allow poor employees to take leftover food home to their families.
Sound familiar? It should. “Bending the rules” and “working the system” to help people who are at a disadvantage is a very credit union-ish thing to do.
In fact, we’ve found that breaking the rules is quite common in CU-land. One of the steps in our credit union branding process involves asking CU staff to share their proudest moments of making a difference for members in an anonymous online survey. In many cases, their proudest stories involve deliberately bending or even breaking credit union rules in order to do the right thing for a member. Even very senior members of CU management fondly recall refunding fees, approving loans, staying open late, babysitting, buying lunch for members, and even helping with car or home repairs — often in violation of “the rules”.
Forming real, personal connections to members is part of what makes credit unions special. And very often, that means breaking the rules when it’s the right thing to do.