Virtual chapter leaders bring community together

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U.S. Bank employees Ty Morris and Allan Hunt lead of the Spectrum Business Resource Group virtual chapter—volunteer work that they say gives them the chance to enrich the LGBT communities where they live.

The Spectrum virtual chapter allows employees in many cities throughout the bank to network, learn and develop leadership skills. Spectrum members volunteer in their communities, advise the bank on LGBT issues and support members with shared interests.

Based in Eugene, Ore., Ty serves as an Investment Management Associate in the Wealth Management division. Allan is a Risk Consultant with the ATM and Debit Services division in Dallas. They chatted with Ann Dyste, head of LGBT segment strategy at U.S. Bank.

Ann: So, Ty and Allan, tell us more about each of your roles with the bank?

Ty: I work with a team of professionals in our wealth management group that helps clients of the bank realize their personal financial dreams and goals.  My main focus is on the investment management discipline, which takes goals developed in a financial plan and aligns them into an investment portfolio that is appropriate for each client's unique risk and return parameters.  In my role as an investment management associate, I spend a lot of time ensuring the team has everything they need to ensure the client has the best experience possible.  I also work directly with clients to develop relationships that strengthen the overall team experience.

Allan: I support my business unit’s data security related audits and help maintain compliance with information protection policies. On any given day I’m part of assessment meetings, policy reviews, and technical projects – and in the midst of meetings I’m answering questions from the business about security policy and controls, and from different risk, information security, and compliance groups about our business and our applications.

Ann: How did each of you get involved with Spectrum? What motivated you?

Ty: When Spectrum launched the first chapter in Cincinnati, I was very excited to see the bank pursuing a diversity initiative to bring LGBT employees and allies together for shared causes.  But being on the West Coast, I could only watch and see what they were doing.  Even being far away, I knew I needed to be involved with Spectrum and network with people like me.

Allan: I wanted to help advocate for inclusion of our LGBT+ employees and ensure that their stories are heard and understood among the many others at U.S. Bank.  When I heard that there was interest in a virtual chapter, I thought I could use my experience with communicating virtually to help reach places where there are less established communities.

Ann: Why is it important for companies to establish groups like Spectrum?

Ty: I feel the more connected to a company an employee feels, the longer their careers at that company will last, and they have a higher possibility of upward momentum in their careers.

Allan: It’s also about the companies being connected to their employees, customers and communities.  It’s important not only to be a visible presence in communities of diversity, but also to go beyond Pride – to show how inclusion enriches our company culture and enhances our business.  That’s where employee groups representing diverse communities can help inform company policy and the workplace environment, but also how products, services, and communication are designed.

Ann: Why is the Virtual Chapter so important to Spectrum and the bank?

Ty: The Virtual Chapter is important to the bank because it provides a landscape for employees across the country to come together and connect with people working in different environments and departments. It also gives the chance to attend events to improve their skills, which might not be available in smaller locations.

Allan: We have a lot of employees outside of the branch footprint, both in offices and working virtually, who are excited to be able to participate in events that impact their communities and to have U.S. Bank support them in these efforts.

Ann: What’s been your favorite / influential event so far?

Ty: The event that has influenced me the most has been our talk last September, “What is an Ally?”  While I’m a part of the gay community, I’m an ally to the rest of the LGBT spectrum as well as other diversity groups. This event reinforced that it takes more than just saying you are an ally; you have to be an ally through your actions and words, and that has helped me become more vocal for the groups I am not part of.

Ann: What else do you have planned for Spectrum this year?

Allan: We have a few events aimed beyond our LGBT+ employees, beyond the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of being an ally, to help folks understand how to become an ally and support their coworkers who may be coming out or transitioning.

Ann: What has been your biggest gain from being involved with the business resource group at U.S. Bank?

Ty: I’ve been able to interact with companies across different industries, to learn their philosophies and strategies behind their resource groups, and to share ours as well.  Many companies haven’t attempted to develop the virtual element because it does have a lot of hurdles. But we are showing that many of those can be overcome.

Allan: I’ve learned a lot from the interactions I’ve had over the past year, being able to connect with other employees from other parts of the organization and other parts of the country. There have been a lot of awesome things said about what we’ve produced in the past year, aimed generally in our direction and particularly at me, and having that support has been fantastic. I’ve sort of “come out” as an introvert and shown that introverts can excel in this very public position. With the BRG we are really trying to go beyond just showing diversity, to help build an inclusive culture. I see that as an introverted type of process, making sure that there is an inward focus on breaking down those barriers to understanding and inclusion.

Ann: How do you keep everything balanced between your work and Spectrum?

Allan: My calendar is a “Spectrum” of color coded tasks and meetings.  I also make sure to check in as much as I can with our board members about their projects, just like I would with my coworkers.

Ty: I have a coffeemaker at my desk; being caffeinated helps (laughs).  In all truth, time management and surrounding yourself with a team of hardworking, dedicated individuals have made the balance run smoothly. And if work and Spectrum doesn’t sound like enough, I’m also a student.

Ann: What makes you proud of U.S. Bank?

Ty: It’s really hard to choose just one thing.  As a Spectrum board member, I’m proud of the growth in the diversity and inclusion programs at U.S. Bank, both to this point and in the plans we have for the future.  I’m also proud to be a partner to our customers, helping them achieve their goals both financially and in life.

Allan: We spend so many of our waking hours at work. I’m proud to be part of a company that does so much to make sure employees are comfortable bringing their full selves to work, which lets employees take part in influencing our culture.

 

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