Diversity Insight: Chartway Keeps Delivering on Its Motto, ‘People First, Always’ 

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Rebecca Riordan Photo
Chief Talent and Culture Officer
Chartway Credit Union

7 minutes

Celebrating a Juntos Avanzamos designation and increased team member engagement, the CU’s leaders continue to foster a workplace of inclusion.

It's my privilege to reflect on Chartway Credit Union’s ongoing efforts to embrace and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization. Grounded in our core values of relationships, communities, quality and differences, our bright journey forward relies on our shared belief that inclusivity makes us stronger and a better steward for our members, communities and each other.

Chartway’s “People First, Always” statement originated in 2021 and has been embraced by our team. It embodies our commitment to placing the dignity and diversity of people at the forefront of everything we do to unlock the potential of individuals and families so they can thrive. Still, years after adopting the statement, we’re continually reminded of the learning and growth that lie ahead and recognize the ongoing work and dedication required to foster a truly inclusive environment.

Listening and Learning: We All Belong

Our work begins with leadership, including our board of directors, understanding why DEI is important and receiving periodic updates on our initiatives. We talk about listening and learning often because our leaders know many perspectives can only be discovered through actively seeking information. That’s one reason Chartway’s President/CEO Brian Schools, a CUES member, holds monthly listening sessions with team members across our organization.  

DEI is an essential part of our culture, and all team members participate in organized DEI learning every year. We’ve partnered with a variety of credit union industry leaders, including Jennifer Esperanza, Ph.D., at Coopera and Jill Nowacki at CUES Supplier member Humanidei, in addition to a local college. Further, we celebrate our team members’ experiences through their original content in our internal communications; and our talent acquisition team shares our culture with candidates, discussing the value of differences and inclusion here at Chartway CU. We recognize that the work to ensure all our team members feel a sense of belonging is never done.

Juntos Avanzamos Designation & Expanding our Bilingual Team: A Triumph in Diversity

A recent, defining moment for Chartway has been our achievement of the Juntos Avanzamos designation in late 2023, underscoring our dedicated efforts to go beyond traditional banking services and truly serve Hispanic and immigrant communities. This important designation reinforces our commitment to providing equitable financial opportunities and assistance to all and sets the bar for us to continue to earn the trust of the Hispanic community every day.

Critical to our efforts is comprehensive cultural competency training for all team members combined with growing our bilingual team. We’ve employed targeted recruitment efforts and a supportive environment for language development. In the past year alone, we've had our Spanish-speaking team members grow by 60% to over 80 team members. And, we’ve seen how our intentional focus has not only improved our ability to communicate with a broader audience but also has enriched our organizational culture through diverse perspectives and insights.

Our journey toward the Juntos Avanzamos designation began in early 2023 with a commitment to understanding the unique financial needs of the Hispanic and immigrant communities we serve. We’ve ensured that our services are not just accessible but tailored to meet the diverse needs of these members. In addition to our two Salt Lake City-area branches completely staffed with bilingual team members, we have more than 70 team members who use their language skills to serve those throughout our markets. We see this designation as both a recognition of past efforts and a promise to continue evolving and adapting to better serve our members.

Resource Groups: Strengthening Connections

Recognizing the importance of encouraging a sense of community within our organization, we launched five resource groups: African American, Empowering Women, Working Parents, Mi Gente (Latino), and Chartway Pride (LGBTQ+). Nearly 40% of our more than 550 team members have joined these groups and created spaces for meaningful connections, support and collaboration across diverse backgrounds.

Our resource groups are more than simple affinity networks; they are catalysts for education, empathy and progress. Through these groups, team members find mentorship opportunities, share experiences and contribute to initiatives that positively impact our workplace and communities. The success of our resource groups lies in their ability to create a sense of belonging, support professional development and foster an inclusive environment where individuals are accepted and valued.

Empowering Teams: Spotlight on Financial Wellness

We believe in the importance of financial wellness for both members and team members; that’s why we emphasize comprehensive financial education for our workforce. Our financial well-being initiatives empower team members to make informed financial decisions and equip them to guide our members on their own unique financial journeys. Ultimately, we know that when we invest in developing personal finance skills for our team, Chartway is better positioned to serve the diverse needs of our members.

In that same vein, we've also thoughtfully expanded the range of team member benefits. Team members are automatically enrolled in our 401(k) upon employment. They also have the option to increase their contributions with a generous company match. Additionally, we broadened the scope of our tuition assistance programs by removing any restriction on courses of study and implemented new student loan repayment options. For loan repayment, Chartway pays $100 per month toward student loans. Since the introduction of the repayment program last year, about 50 team members now receive the benefit. These enhancements have been met with enthusiastic appreciation and recognition of our commitment to team members’ overall growth and success. They report feeling valued, supported and empowered to reach their fullest potential.

FiCEP Certifications: Elevating Professional Growth

Over the past year, 60 Chartway team members earned their Financial Counseling Certification Program accreditation, a testament to our commitment to professional development and creating a culture of continuous learning. Other developmental opportunities we’ve also implemented include shadowing programs, cross-functional training sessions and a rewards system that recognizes and celebrates the achievements of our team members. We found significant value in investing in certifications and participating in other educational activities as it pays dividends in both employee satisfaction and member service.

DEI Survey: Tracking Progress and Impact

Our approach to enhancing team member engagement began in 2021 with a comprehensive review of our workplace policies, benefits and recognition programs. Then, our senior leadership team conducted listening sessions to understand the specific needs and concerns of our team members. Based on those outcomes, we implemented flexible work arrangements, enhanced wellness programs and commenced recognition initiatives that celebrate the diverse contributions of our team. 

To ensure our efforts are making a tangible impact, we doubled them, leveraging the Gallup platform and its DEI survey and the organizational equity assessment survey conducted by our partner Coopera. This year marked the second year for both surveys, which help us to gauge the effectiveness of our initiatives, gather valuable feedback and identify areas for improvement. We believe that continuous assessment is the key to sustaining the positive momentum we've built in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

Rising Team Member Engagement 

The impact of our DEI initiatives on team member engagement cannot be overstated—ours has substantially increased over the past year. Chartway has used Gallup’s Q12 survey to measure engagement since 2016. In the last two years, our team member participation has increased to more than 90%. We attribute our commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture to our more engaged and motivated team and recognize its positive influence on organizational success, workplace dynamics and performance metrics.

In conclusion, the strides we've made in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Chartway are a source of pride for our entire team. I hope that by sharing our experiences here, we can serve as a positive example within the credit union industry and contribute to the creation of more inclusive and equitable financial institutions.

Rebecca Riordan is chief talent and culture officer at $2.9 billion Chartway Credit Union, Virginia Beach, Virginia. She joined the team in 2020 following nearly 30 years of progressively advanced human resources leadership and executive roles at various organizations, including The Fitzpatrick Companies and Greylock Federal Credit Union. She has extensive experience in managing all areas of human resources in a multi-state, culturally diverse environment. She has received certifications for fostering diversity and inclusion from Cornell University and the Yale School of Management. In addition, Riordan proudly serves on the board of directors for Chartway’s charitable arm, the Chartway Promise Foundation, which provides memorable experiences for medically fragile children and their families. She graduated from the State University of New York College at New Paltz, New York, and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

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