Always remember that “Pride” is more than just a month, it’s a state of mind. Live out the values set forth in Pride month — including integrity, honesty and making a difference for others — every day of your life.
Dr. William Kapfer is Global Head of Supplier Diversity for JPMorgan Chase & Co.
(Editor’s Note: The following narrative is in Bill’s own words.)
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.
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. Year-round I work closely with advocacy organizations, community leaders and various business units across my company to create opportunities for diverse suppliers. I 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 encourage and foster authenticity, building a culture that includes all people. Employees cannot deliver exceptional client services, or realize their full, personal potential if they feel obliged to leave part of themselves at home when they come to work.