Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 7, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why First Credit Union was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2022):
- First Credit Union supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses both related and not directly related to their current position
- First Credit Union helps employees save for the longer term though a defined contribution pension plan -- and employees can take advantage of a number of helpful financial benefits along the way, including low-interest home loans
- First Credit Union encourages employees to adopt healthy habits with healthy eating challenges that features recipes, cook-alongs, tips, tools, nutrition talks and support from a registered holistic nutritionist
First CU invests in people, communities, and the planet
Each year, First Credit Union spends $75 per employee to throw a holiday party. When the COVID-19 pandemic halted the gathering, employees asked the company to redirect that budget to help local families.
“Each team chose how they wanted to spend their money and supported donated gift hampers and food banks,” says Linda Bowyer, CEO of the community-owned financial institution with branches in Powell River, Texada, Cumberland, Courtenay, Bowen Island, Union Bay, Bowser, and Hornby Island. “This made me very proud of our employees.”
To Bowyer, this also showed how employees have taken to heart First Credit Union’s commitment to community. For example, the organization contributes about 10 per cent of its operating income each year to a fund to develop programs that support its communities. It also partnered with two other organizations to form the Community Response Fund to provide relief to groups serving vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic.
The organization also focuses on financial literacy, which is a passion for Katryna Lawry, a certified financial planner. Lawry loves visiting community groups and especially high schools to discuss the subject.
“I love being able to work with young adults and encourage them to be more involved in their finances. That can really help lead to financial success in their future,” Lawry says, adding that she appreciates that First Credit Union provides employees with the technology and time out of their workday to do that.
“Our ability to support our community is core to who we are and one of the reasons I love being here – being able to give back, not only during the good times but also the challenging times.”
Support for education and learning is also directed within First Credit Union. Lawry started 18 years ago as a part-time teller when she was 18. She completed her post-secondary education, including her certified financial planner designation, while working full time, with all tuition paid for by First Credit Union.
“To be able to do that has been amazing,” Lawry says. “Now I get to share that experience and that knowledge with other staff, which I love being able to do.”
This support for its people is part of First Credit Union’s “triple bottom line” approach, with a focus on people, planet and prosperity.
“Our goal is to generate profits through means that positively impact our people and the environment and then use those profits to improve the prosperity of our communities,” Bowyer says.
Other ways the organization supports its people include a wellness allowance, 100 per cent coverage of mental health counselling up to $1,000 a year, in addition to access to free counselling through an employee assistance program and allowing many non-customer-facing employees options to work remotely or in an office.
“We care about our employees beyond work. Their home and health are equally important to us,” Bowyer says. “I think if they know that you care, they're certainly a lot more engaged. Any time you have healthy, vibrant, engaged employees, you have a better company.”
On the planet front, First Credit Union offers e-bike loans interest-free to employees and purchased an e-bike for many branches. It also completed a greenhouse gas emissions audit and is working to improve its score. And it offers environmentally responsible investments to its members.
For its focus on prosperity, the organization provides tools to help members with financial planning and budgeting. For example, First Credit Union is working with the City of Powell River on its poverty reduction strategy, providing programs such as savings matching and interest-free loans to households who may face eviction.
“It is all linked to financial inclusion,” Bowyer says. “It’s about giving people the tools they need to make better financial decisions and improve their own prosperity.”