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LGBTQ+ at Capital One: How Inclusion and Belonging Drives Out Front’s Work
All images used in this article were taken prior to March 2020.
The Out Front Business Resource Group (BRG) is a growing, thriving community that fosters welcoming spaces for all at Capital One. When LGTBQ+ associates come to work, they can feel empowered to live their truth with allies and supportive colleagues. The community also offers education and resources to help spread awareness and understanding and to offer support. Chris, a Tech Principal Program Manager and San Francisco Out Front Chapter Co-Lead, shares “Out Front is creating an inclusive environment, raising awareness and visibility of LGBTQ+ issues, and bringing together a community to create change. The people I’ve met through Out Front have been some of the best resources for both my own professional and personal development.”
Creating an inclusive community for all
For LGBTQ+ associates who previously may have felt othered or excluded because of their identities, the Out Front community offers a dedicated space to connect—where they no longer need to feel alone, misunderstood, or unsure of how to thrive and grow. Jena, Senior Associate, Brand Researcher, shared “I came out last year, and in a year of cancelled events (due to the global shutdown), I was sad to hear that most Pride events were cancelled. Pride at Capital One (held virtually) last year was so important to me, because I got to start connecting with others who shared similar experiences as me.” The connections that Out Front members and allies make help them to build support systems and find commonalities with others that they may not find outside of work. These connections create a deeper sense of understanding and acceptance, fostered by shared experiences.
For associates committed to supporting and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, the BRG offers a wealth of education and resources, as well as communication with other members, to help these allies find the best way to offer support. Judson, Project Management Manager and Out Front Strategic Program Management Lead, explains “a large percentage of people at Capital One are actively supporting the LGBTQ+ community and it’s no wonder that Capital One has received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 18 consecutive years.” Many members of Out Front actively network to educate and connect with others about the welcoming environment, resources and community that can be found as a member and ally of the BRG.
Creating space for open conversations, education and awareness
One of the most prominent and impactful ways that Out Front continues to make sure everyone has a space and a voice at Capital One is through events and celebrations of special observances. Each year, the BRG hosts a full calendar of conversations with leaders and members of the Out Front community, as well as inspiring external speakers, that are open for associates to attend, interact and connect or better understand the community. BP, Trans/Queer+ Co-Lead for Out Front, shared their reflections on a favorite event. They said “I loved leading a chat with another non-binary associate and Corey Lee, SVP, Retail Bank Channel Experience, called “What About Them?” We had a great conversation about pronouns, identity, and how to react when you’re on that learning journey and you get it ‘wrong’.” Who better to learn from when it comes to creating positive interactions and environments than your own teammates and leaders within the company?
Out Front has sponsored some very exciting talks from prominent figures outside of Capital One as well. These speakers help attendees to see and hear diverse perspectives and approaches to handling challenges that associates may also be encountering. Judson remembered a favorite event: a prominent general “came to talk about her experience in the military as she was forced to stay in the closet for years and ultimately became the first out general in the US military.” Her story left quite an impact on many attendees who may have struggled with how to own their identity in the workplace and how they can find ways to help others also feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work. These intimate conversations between moderators and guest speakers also offer the chance for attendees to ask questions of their own and find even more opportunities to feel seen, heard and connected to others through shared experiences.
Making an impact in the LGBTQ+ community around us through volunteering
Chris shared the most impactful programming he’s been a part of through Out Front and the events his local chapter organized directly with the San Francisco community, “We've volunteered with an organization that invests in LGBTQ+ nonprofits, hosted workshops with an organization empowering LGBTQ+ youth through technology, and worked with an organization that provides access to information and resources that address the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.” Giving back and being involved within the community helps Out Front members and allies spread their inclusive, welcoming spirit beyond Capital One. “Seeing the impact we are able to make in our own backyard and being given the opportunity to do that together with your fellow coworkers stands out as incredibly important and rewarding,” Chris added.
Celebrating the power of Pride every day
Out Front works to increase visibility and understanding by commemorating significant celebrations in the LGBTQ+ community. For events like National Coming Out Day or Trans Day of Visibility (and many other days throughout the year), Out Front works with storytellers across the company to amplify stories of associates and their families who are living openly and proudly. These stories serve to empower, educate, celebrate and support by increasing awareness and acceptance more broadly.
One of the biggest and most powerful celebrations is Pride. Each June, each Out Front chapter hosts internal events, as well participating in local community events. Each year, there is a celebration of “the beauty of being able to be yourself, empowering others who have not had the luxury of experiencing such beauty, and remembering and thanking those who came before us and fought for things to be better for future generations,” as Adrian, Associate Agile Delivery Lead, explained. The events throughout Pride bring associates together to celebrate their unique experiences and the LGBTQ+ community, in a variety of fun, positive ways like parades, celebrations, and events that promote self-love and togetherness. Pride is so much more than colorful decorations, it serves an important purpose to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in fighting for their rights and helps to continue drawing support and understanding as they continue to seek and attain true equality in every aspect.
The work of the Out Front community is key to fostering inclusivity, providing awareness and education on key issues and inequalities faced within the community, and advocating for a more equitable future for all. Tyler, Communications Manager and Out Front Communications Lead, shared “as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I grew up afraid to be myself and live my authentic truth because of what other people might think. With Out Front, the “real me” doesn’t just feel accepted every day, it feels CELEBRATED!”
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