Why It Pays to Take a Leap of Faith

Why It Pays to Take a Leap of Faith
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Why you should care

Because it’s important to find a job that honors your values.

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I first joined the workforce in the late 1980s. America is a very different country now compared to back then. Navigating questions about my personal life was difficult early on. As a gay man, I was nervous to reveal the real me and wasn’t sure how my colleagues would react. The result? My coworkers were not getting to know the real me, as it was not my true self showing up to work each day. I learned that you cannot reach your full potential if you leave the real you at home.

So I took a leap of faith. I came out. Work is stressful enough, I thought; to expend more energy trying to hide who I was just wasn’t worth it. And since that day, I realized that being my true self has helped me grow in my career.

The experience was life changing, but it also reminded me of my past. My earliest memories are of working in my grandfather’s grocery store, alongside many people who were different from me. Stocking shelves, making sandwiches and bagging groceries, I worked side by side with people from all walks of life. And throughout that experience, my grandfather taught me the importance of embracing and honoring all people, regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. He enabled me to embrace everyone, including myself.

The lessons I learned working in his store will forever stay with me and have carried over into much of my professional life. I began my career in banking more than 30 years ago. I was recruited to a management training program by First Interstate Bank and eventually landed a position in bank management. Working in a small-community branch allowed me to learn and understand more about minority-owned, small businesses and how to serve their unique needs. The value of diversity has long been close to my heart, so when I was approached by JPMorgan Chase with an opportunity to work on the Global Supplier Diversity team, the decision was a no-brainer.

Employees should not feel obliged to leave part of themselves at home when they come to work.

 

I believe that diversity is at the core of several of the most successful businesses around the world. At JPMorgan Chase, I have the opportunity to support diverse companies by including them in our sourcing process, which results in increased revenue and growth within their communities.

Supplier diversity is more than just goodwill; it is good business. Having diverse suppliers promotes innovation and creates value for shareholders. My team and I work closely with advocacy organizations, community leaders and various business units across the company to create opportunities for diverse suppliers. We support and mentor our suppliers and help them become top performers in their industries.

And while my role makes me proud to come to work, it is not the only reason I am a proud JPMorgan Chase employee. JPMorgan Chase has done, and continues to do, an incredible job of supporting me and my LGBT colleagues. The company’s corporate policies have kept pace with the changing outlook on LGBT inclusivity. True inclusion goes beyond being an equal opportunity employer — it requires everyday actions to foster authenticity and should be woven into the very fabric of our culture. Employees should not feel obliged to leave part of themselves at home when they come to work.

Pride is more than just a month to me; it’s a state of mind.

 

My advice for young LGBT people starting their careers? Conduct diligent research on the companies you want to work for and see if they represent the values you support. And once you find that particular company, continue to learn and seize every opportunity.

Pride is more than just a month to me; it’s a state of mind. It is also a constant in my life — each and every day I live out the values set forth in Pride month, including integrity, honesty and making a difference for others.

Indeed, I believe Pride month is a celebration of people and institutions that have embraced diversity as much as it is a way to encourage them to do so. It is a month of reflection; a month to ask yourself if the core values of your life are being met by the world you have made for yourself — and the company you work for.

William Kapfer is Global Head of Supplier Diversity at JPMorgan Chase.