Kristen Shultz, president/CEO of the $588 million Spectra Credit Union in Alexandria, Va., has spent nearly five years in her leadership role developing and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives internally and externally.
Inside, he created an impressively diverse executive team. Outside, he carries the major task of managing a set of DEI marketing goals.
During a ceremony in November, his credit union was recognized as the winner of the CU Time 2022 LUMINARIES award for DEI – Corporation. One of the many reasons his credit union won the award stemmed from a unique plan to rebrand Spectra after dropping its former name of Naval Research Lab Federal Credit Union. .
As Shultz said, the old name reflected a limited membership, although in fact it was open to the community. “So in creating a new name for the credit union, it was very important to us that everyone feel welcome,” he said.
Incorporated into the rebranding strategy is a DEI external communications strategy that has involved heavy lifting of creating an exciting new website that reflects (honestly) the new name Spectra – the plural of the word “spectrum.”
Shultz explained, “We like to tie back to the rainbow and all walks of life and all people are a part of the tie back to the rainbow and all walks of life and all people are a part of this and the prism reflect the light. You can see how the colors change on the webpage. As the light passes through it, you get different shades. That was very useful too. Of course, the cleanliness of the website was also important to us, but it also reflected different types of people and different types of products. We also expressed our commitment to our community in a way that we have never done publicly before.
CU Time spoke with Shultz shortly after the credit union won the LUMINARIES award. The following dialog is designed for style and design.
CU time: Talk to your leadership team and how they reflect your DEI efforts.
Shultz: My CFO and COO are women, and I recently hired a CLO who is male. But my VP of retail and my VP of lending are African-American women, and two of my sons. You know credit unions, I feel, have been very good at this. We are always different, but I don’t think we always advertise or celebrate that difference because it’s just a fabric of who we are. Right? That’s what we’ve always done. I’m very proud of our credit union and how we’ve embraced that.
CU time: It seems that the diversity strategy extends beyond your executive team. How?
Shultz: We also worked hard to serve our Hispanic community, a growing community in our area. So many staff are bilingual. Most people in our branch, at least in one branch, are both bilingual. We have bilingual people in our call center, our loan department (and we have bilingual people) underwriters. We have bilingual staff everywhere so that those people feel special when they come in and feel like we’re really going to help them because no one wants to come to a financial institution if you do not understand the meaning of documents. That is not open. Not welcome.
CU time: And is your DEI network integration plan going back to one of your branch managers?
Shultz: Another smart move when we redesigned our website is in Spanish and English. You know, I have to give some of that credit to one of our branch managers – his name is Victor Salas and he’s been at the credit union longer than I have. But he’s a champion for the Hispanic community, and he’s a big driver for us to make a mark in that community and help them in a way that we didn’t have because of him. He was a great help to them.
CU time: How did you translate your entire website into Spanish?
Shultz: We’ve actually used people in our organization who speak two languages, and we have some bilingual speakers in our company. So those teams worked together to make sure the translation of the site was appropriate because as you know, there are many languages and words mean different things to different people. strange. In fact, it is a basic effort to ensure that the most common words are acceptable and will be relevant to most people. That’s the group I mentioned and Victor is definitely a part of it. Our other bilingual people on our phone and our marketing team did a lot of work there, and they did a wonderful job with our people. They feel like they have a place to go right in front of their tongue. They don’t have to worry about not understanding something because it is written for them in their language.
CU time: One reason your credit union won a LUMINARIES award is because of your affiliate marketing strategy. Can you describe the “Welcome” program?
Shultz: It is very important for us to put a general message out there that everyone feels that you can come to us even if you have been to another place and you have not been welcomed or you have not felt you are not good enough to belong. that financial institution. Welcome to our credit union! And it doesn’t matter to us what your background is, what your race is, or what your financial situation is. You are welcome and important to us. And that’s really the tagline behind our rebrand. We want everyone to feel that they can come to us. And I’ll tell you right now, it seems to be working better than we expected. We have record numbers this year and I really hope for a great future for our credit union.
CU time: As CEO of Spectra, how do you feel about being able to accomplish more with a rebranding plan that reflects your DEI plans?
Shultz: Wow. I don’t even know how to explain it. A sense of team accomplishment. I was lucky enough to represent the credit union, but the team did all the work to make it happen. And I’m just proud of it, especially the great work we’re doing in the communities. And I’ve done a major conversion in my past, and I thought that was the best job I’ve ever been involved in. Well, that’s not true because the rebranding was so much more than a core change because of everything it touched and everything we wanted to do with that rebranding. We didn’t just change our names. Changing our website, changing our vision, changing our organization. It’s really cool! But I am very proud. I guess that’s the word I’d use to describe it, and (I’m) very grateful for the hard work that everyone put into it, to make it happen in such an amazing way.
CU time: What’s next on your DEI journey?
Shultz: It only gets better and better and never stops learning. You know, the DEI process is still ongoing, and one of the things I’ve heard recently that needs to be added to our DEI evaluations is acceptance for people who are hard of hearing, or people who have difficulties then see if (there are) other species. physical limitations to ensure we achieve all of those. So I think we’re just looking at it and there’s a lot more to come, and I’m very hopeful for the great work that we’re going to do.