Finding Success at Work While Being Yourself
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Michelle, Capital One associate, sits in her kitchen and talks about finding success in being herself at work

Finding Success at Work While Being Yourself

A dark moment in Michelle’s life brought a beautiful realization: Her colleagues supported her honestly and fully.

Michelle and her girlfriend’s basement flooded after a sudden rainstorm three years ago. They needed to remove the water, dry and vacuum the floors, schedule repairs and sort through damaged goods. Their stress was at an all-time high.

Michelle was thankful when her colleagues stepped in to help. Her leaders encouraged Michelle to take time off and get everything sorted. Her team sent a Lowe’s gift card that she put toward replacing their basement bathroom vanity. The support of her team meant the world to Michelle, who had never opened up about her personal life, including her sexuality, before coming to Capital One.

“I was touched by their gesture,” said Michelle, an Administrative Assistant and Principal Coordinator for Financial Planning and Analytics. “I knew then that Capital One supported me no matter my sexuality or my identity.”

Through the support of her colleagues and Capital One’s culture of belonging, Michelle has found an employer where she can thrive professionally and personally as her authentic self.

Capital One associate Michelle sits at home holding her dog

Learning to be Michelle

Underlying fears plagued Michelle’s career before she came to Capital One.

Would an employer punish her for being gay? Would colleagues think less of her for having hearing loss and needing hearing aids? Would her extroverted colleagues go further than her because she was an introvert?

But Michelle took note of how Capital One encouraged associates to be open about who they are. Business Resource Groups (BRGs), associate-led groups and Slack channels exist for associates of many different identities to gather, network and pursue career development together.

Michelle opened up as she met with colleagues during her first year at Capital One. She mentioned she was a lesbian, had hearing loss and was a naturally shy person who needs time to adjust to new people and settings.

“Capital One truly motivates you to be authentic,” Michelle said. “The company is so supportive. Everyone just made it comfortable for me to be Michelle. The sense of belonging here helps me be a more productive and happier employee.”

Capital One’s BRGs make it easier for Michelle to open up. She is a member of Voices, a BRG for Black associates and allies; Out Front, a BRG for LGBTQIA+ associates and allies; and Capabilities, a BRG focused on removing barriers of inclusion for people with disabilities. Michelle also participates in INergy, an associate-led group for introverts and extrovert allies to find resources for personal and professional growth.

“Joining all of these groups has been my way of letting others know more about me,” Michelle said. “Whenever I show an interest in something, my managers and colleagues support and encourage me to go after it. They want to see me happy and fulfilled.”

Capital One associate sits at her laptop talking to other associates

Honing her career development

As a member of Voices, Michelle took part in the Magellan program, a customized, comprehensive nine-month career management and leadership development experience.

The Magellan program assists participants in five key areas of focus: career planning, resource awareness, skills building, leadership development and networking. Associates polish their resumes, develop their personal brands and create strategies to eliminate roadblocks to success.

Michelle came away from the program with more confidence to advocate for herself and a career goal to be a chief of staff or work in diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“During my time in Magellan, I began to see there were so many choices for me,” she said. “I didn’t have to follow one career path. The program challenged me to dig deeper and not be afraid to say who I am or what I want to do.”

A passion for helping others

As Michelle gains more confidence in expressing her authentic self at Capital One, she’s opened up to her colleagues about her passion for volunteering.

With Out Front, Michelle helped plan Capital One’s participation in the 2019 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C. She organized registration, handled T-shirt distribution and instructed nearly 200 associates and their family members on where to go during the parade to march with the float.

Outside of work, Michelle is involved with the Human Rights Campaign, where she helps to solicit auction items for an annual fundraiser, and hosts networking events for the Equality Chamber of Commerce DC Metro Area.

She logs her service hours in the Capital One Volunteer Connection platform. At the end of the year, associates can redeem logged hours for charitable donations to a nonprofit of their choice.

“Capital One makes sure our volunteer opportunities are endless,” Michelle said. “It’s awesome that associates are supported in giving back to our communities.”

Capital One associate Michelle sits on her couch with her laptop

Thriving while being ‘Michelle’

All of Michelle’s original questions about life at Capital One have been answered. At Capital One, different perspectives, identities and experiences are celebrated.

Michelle is comfortable being her authentic self and showing up every day as “Michelle.”

“It’s OK to be an introvert. It’s OK to be gay. It’s OK to wear hearing aids to work,” Michelle said. “To work for a company that fully understands and encourages people no matter who you are or your background is an awesome feeling.”