Diversity Insight: You Are Welcome Here

hispanic woman wave
By Kristin Shultz, CCE

4 minutes

Spectra Credit Union sets the tone at the top and strives to deliver on diversity across all areas of the organization.

For Spectra Credit Union, diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a new initiative. In fact, Spectra CU’s team comprises 60% of people of color and 65% of women. With a diverse senior management team, DEI is at the forefront of the strategic decision-making process.

To ensure the credit union considers DEI at every level, Spectra’s HR director, Jennifer Young, is DEI certified by Cornell University and spearheads the credit union’s internal initiatives with the support of executive management. She ensures that Spectra CU’s hiring process, employee culture, policies and procedures reflect an overall commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Furthermore, in late 2021, we changed our name from NRL Federal Credit Union to Spectra Credit Union. The new name pays homage to the credit union’s scientific roots with an eye to the future as our organization looks to serve a more diverse market in the Washington, D.C. region, which is a melting pot of languages and cultures. 

To announce the new name and to emphasize our commitment to DEI, we launched the “You Are Welcome” campaign to let the community know that a financial solution is available to everyone, including the underbanked and/or disenfranchised. 

Serving Spanish Speakers

That inclusive message resonated with the large Spanish-speaking population in the market, especially since one of our branches serves ~95% Hispanic members. With that in mind, Spectra is committed to providing all internal and external materials in English and Spanish, including the website, marketing messages and soon, all forms and disclosures. 

Our credit union also has identified ways to offer or facilitate vital lending options for non-citizens with our individual taxpayer identification number lending program. We also recognize that Spanish is one of many languages prevalent in the metropolitan D.C. area, so we implemented a language line within our communications center that offers hundreds of language options for members or prospective members of Spectra CU.

At the branch level, all of our services and corporate communications are accessible to Spanish speakers. We have a Spanish-speaking staff person at each of our offices, and branch advertising is always translated into Spanish. Spectra also has offered several sessions with one of our Hispanic team members voluntarily teaching Spanish to more than 25 employees to assist our members better. 

Including Other Marginalized Groups

But language isn’t the only barrier to inclusivity. We welcome all marginalized groups and want them to feel represented at Spectra CU. Specifically, we reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community through advertising in targeted publications and using representative couples in marketing materials. We also make concerted efforts to use size-inclusive models whenever possible. We believe even small changes make a big difference when it comes to representation and “being seen.”

Taking It to the Team

At Spectra CU, employees are empowered to be their authentic selves and encouraged to celebrate our differences that are in the beauty of our organizational culture. For example, our employees influence our strategic goals, and this helps them feel inspired to achieve those goals. 

Spectra CU has a DEI 101 training initiative with the Maryland & DC Credit Union Association. In this initiative, all Spectra staff, board members and supervisory committee members will access the association’s DEI 101 e-learning course and earn their certificate by completing all three modules. 

In addition, Spectra encourages professional development by providing our employees with resources through credit union association courses that prepare employees to fulfill our mission and vision. To help us deliver on our commitment to serving the underserved and underbanked, we 17 staff members are now certified credit union financial counselors.

Spectra CU also encourages the development of employee resource groups to provide an open forum for marginalized employees in our workforce and their allies and to give leadership ideas about how to enhance the workplace environment for all employees, plus present learning opportunities for all staff.

Pay Equity, Too

Spectra CU frequently runs analytic pay equity reports through our human resources information system to ensure that staff is being compensated equitably and that there are no unfair pay gaps across gender, race or ethnicity.

Our pay-for-performance evaluation system is also based on fair and equitable principles and is periodically screened and evaluated for unconscious bias. Through this process, we experienced a challenge that allowed us to be a catalyst for change. While conducting the race/gender gap analysis, the results showed that while the organization is diverse in the categories of race and gender overall, branches were not reporting the same. To fix this, we implemented Floater member service positions to allow employees to work in local communities different from their home branches. 

DEI is embedded in Spectra CU’s DNA as we’ve always celebrated diverse and inclusive cultures and ideas. We realize that DEI initiatives are never-ending, and we emphasize incremental steps for progressive change. There is no cookie-cutter method to “achieve” DEI. Everyone’s journey is going to be unique, challenging and empowering. It will not be easy, but the impact is life-changing. 

CUES member Kristin Shultz, CCE, is president/CEO of $602 million Spectra Credit Union, Alexandria, Virginia.

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