Celebrating Latinx Communities and Contributions
Latinx Heritage Month brings us together to celebrate the valuable contributions and cultural influences of Latinx and Hispanic people and communities.
Sept. 15 marked the beginning of the month-long celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. I'm proud to lead an organization that supports the Latinx and Hispanic communities in the Pacific Northwest and beyond and celebrate the valuable contributions and cultural influences of people whose ancestors derive from Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain, and Central and South America.
This month is an opportunity for all of us to expand our knowledge and understanding about the largest community of color in the United States, and to learn more about the incredibly diverse makeup of our nation and the people in the communities we serve.
The first Spanish-speaking people to arrive in our region have a long, and sometimes overlooked, history on both sides of the Cascades. Over the years, these communities, from a variety of heritages of Mexican, Salvadoran, Colombian and other nations, have flourished, despite facing hardships. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Hispanic workers have made significant contributions to Washington's economy, including shipbuilding, aviation and agricultural industries. Their contributions are central to Washington's social, economic and cultural strength. Today, Latinx and Hispanic communities are the second-largest ethnic group in Washington at 14% of the population.
The purchasing power of these communities is increasing. A McKinsey report found that Latinx households have grown their household consumption to $1 trillion in 2021, a 6% annual growth rate. However, they are still facing barriers when it comes to accessing traditional means of growing wealth, including underlying income and savings gaps.
My pledge as CEO of BECU, a financial institution with nearly 1.4 million credit union members, is that we honor our shared values and ambitions by recognizing all communities' diverse wants and needs and meeting them where they are to support their journey to financial freedom.
It is with this in mind that we, at BECU, strive to develop culturally appropriate, authentic and equitable access to our financial products and services, which includes banking assistance in Spanish at eight of our Neighborhood Financial Centers. To assist the financial health of our diverse communities, BECU is focused on providing funding and volunteer opportunities to nonprofit organizations such as Alimentando El Pueblo, Casa Latina, El Centro de la Raza, Entre Hermanos, Sea Mar Community Health Centers and Somos Seattle.
Through engagement, investment and partnership, and with a diverse workforce, we are committed to sustaining and strengthening Latinx and Hispanic communities while empowering social and economic success.
We are making important strides as a leader in the financial services industry to improve financial access to more people on their journey to financial freedom to help fuel stable, sustainable communities. We look forward to continuing to bridge new connections with local households and businesses as we broaden our reach and deliver on our purpose of bringing people together to improve the financial well-being of our members and their communities.