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Empowering Associates through Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Media: The Red Circle

Date published: February 11, 2022


More companies today are recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Creating a more inclusive and diverse culture is now a major part of the business agenda and priorities, with the goal of providing equal opportunities for all associates to grow and thrive. Businesses have also started reaping the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace: improved employee engagement and morale and greater access to talent as they continue to nurture and support the growing workforce.

Among these companies is Capital One, a diversified bank that offers various financial products and services to consumers, small businesses, and commercial clients. They started their operations here in the Philippines in 2013; Capital One Philippines primarily services Capital One credit card customers in the US.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) in the workplace

What does it really mean to have a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace? How does belongingness jive into the mix? For Capital One Philippines, these values are at the core of everything a company does. Its associates foster a culture of belonging that’s rooted in authenticity, connection, and contribution–which enables them to constantly evolve and find new ways of working.

By striving to have a fully inclusive culture, great ideas from associates with different backgrounds and perspectives help the company deliver inventive products and services for its customers.

Capital One Philippines does this by activating DIB practices among its leaders, HR, recruitment, and community engagement policies. The company believes that when associates see that DIB is practiced, implemented, and taken seriously in every aspect of the workplace, then the rest of the workforce can easily follow.

"One advantage we have is that DIB is a foundational part of our culture as a company—it’s who we are, and it’s part of our Values as an organization. This makes integrating DIB into every aspect of our operations a lot easier,” shared Rob Nunnally, Capital One Philippines’ Senior Director.

When DIB is integrated into every aspect of a company’s operations, it opens the door to opportunities that drive engagement and discussions across the organization, providing safe spaces to share observations, ideas, learnings, and concerns. This, in turn, gives associates equal access to resources and channels for growth regardless of their sex, gender, race, disability, religious belief, or class.

Belonging for Capital One Philippines plays a huge role when it comes to practicing diversity and inclusion. “It’s really looking for these occasions, these moments where our associates not only have a seat on the table, they not only have a voice at the table but their voice actually matters and people go out of their way to find and encourage them to raise their voice,” added Nunnally.

Talent, develop, and engage

The company’s BRGs include the EmpowHer BRG which aims to elevate women and allies across the company and plays an important role in engaging and developing tomorrow’s leaders. Capital One Philippines also has the Out Front BRG which focuses on supporting LGBTQ+ associates and helps foster open communication with leaders and allies.

Out Front Philippines has three pillars that serve as a guide and foundation in creating an environment that promotes DIB among its associates—Talent, Develop, and Engage.

Talent supports the education of both their LGBTQ+ associates and their allies about the community so they can be more informed. This comes in the form of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) sessions or continuous learning of leaders and BRG members through special training with certification.

On the other hand, Develop focuses on cultivating the LGBTQ+ leaders and leveraging Capital One Philippines’ resources together. It believes that championing diversity efforts is the responsibility of every associate. However, the company also recognizes that empowering its associates – and its organization – to become successful, DIB advocates require a rigorous leadership and reporting structure.

Capital One Philippines invests in the education of its leaders and associates with a comprehensive DIB learning agenda. This includes mentorship programs, developing a buddy system, and sharing coming out stories to inspire other members of the community and their allies.

Lastly, Engagement is about organizing activities to promote that sense of belonging and inclusion among every associate to deliver their mission of ingenuity, simplicity, and humanity to banking. For example, actively participating and celebrating Pride Month, and having various BRGs like OutFront and EmpowHer (focused on women associates) help every associate connect and deeply understand one another.

Head of Operations JP Paperman recently stepped in to lead the Out Front Philippines BRG. Paperman shares, “I am thrilled to be onboarded to help cultivate and continue Capital One Philippines’ DIB culture even as the management team plans for the future.”

Benefits of DIB

Embracing DIB in the workplace has helped Capital One Philippines build an inclusive workforce that reflects the customers and communities it serves. Capital One Philippines believes that because associates’ voices are heard and respected, they feel valued, more productive, safe, and comfortable in the workplace.

For the company, DIB allows associates from all backgrounds with a broad range of experience and varied perspectives to come together and help solve challenges faster and better. Capital One Philippines acknowledges that having differences is what makes them stronger – more innovative, nimble, and resilient.

DIB has also helped Capital One Philippines find great talent. “Because of our associates’ great experience in the company, they have become our own ambassadors. They are proud of working at the company, they even refer their friends and family to work here,” Nunnally shared.

Capital One Philippines’ highest calling has been to attract talented people who have the audacity to think they can change the world, and the humility to understand it requires a diversity of thought, experience, and background to make it happen.

Diversity, a journey that never ends

“Our journey in DIB is not a one-stop destination–it never ends because it constantly evolves,” Nunnally explained that cultivating a culture that is accepting, inclusive, and has that sense of belonging for everyone is a continuous learning and education journey. “Inclusion is not just about LGBTQ+. It’s about everything. It’s about your diverse backgrounds, it’s about your age, it’s about your sex, your race, it doesn’t end,” said Nunnally.

Michelle Ramos, the current Chief Finance Officer of the company steps into the Assistant General Manager (AGM) role this year. She is the first non-Filipino, non-expat female talent to assume the position.

“I am very glad that Michelle will be the one stepping in as the new AGM of Capital One Philippines. I believe she will be able to continue, protect, and even strengthen our DIB culture, especially now that the company has temporarily transitioned to a predominantly virtual workspace,” said Capital One Philippines’ President Oz Parvaiz.

Capital One has made strong progress in DIB; however, like many companies, there is more progress to be made. One of the things Capital One Philippines is focused on right now is providing training and education for their people managers and giving them the tools to create an environment that’s conducive for DIB to thrive.

The company has recently partnered with third-party experts on neuroscience and talent strategies, whose programs provide great content on recognizing and managing biases and following best practices to help improve decision-making, conversations, and outcomes.

“It’s amazing because the training helps you to think and act in ways that you might not have otherwise. Thinking about even just very basic things, like the business conversations we have every day. They encourage us to reflect and point out these situations and provide recommendations on how we could encourage more openness and inclusivity in the conversation. And it can start with something as simple as changing the way they converse with their teams and manage their meetings,” said Nunnally.

Pride is Powerful

Having a safe, diverse, and inclusive environment where associates feel like they belong is a powerful force that brings out the best in everyone. For Capital One Philippines, giving associates the chance to freely express themselves opens up opportunities for self-growth and allows them to reach their maximum potential.

“I’m an openly gay man and I’m very proud to be that. I know that my experience and who I am are not completely unique and that there are others who share similar experiences. If I can enable a culture where associates can be their authentic selves, whether they’re similar or dissimilar to me, that is a powerful step in the right direction,” said Nunnally.

Creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is no easy feat but it’s not impossible. It starts with having open communication, giving employees platforms to share their thoughts and needs. Employers should make a conscious effort to be more transparent and maximize fairness in decision-making. This is what Capital One Philippines continues to strive for. A workplace where everyone, regardless of their sex, gender, color, race, or religion has equal opportunities and support they need to succeed.

Learn more about Capital One Philippines’ DIB journey and how they embody this principle in their workplace for all associates by catching their featured episode on B2B: Breakfast to Business, a local podcast hosted by Bea Lim that serves its listeners food for thought every week, about life, work, and brands. You can listen via YouTube, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts.

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