Blog Post

How Capital One is Pushing LBGTQ+ Efforts Forward During Pride Month 2021

June 22, 2021

This month we are highlighting our Diversity Best Practices Member, Capital One. We sat down and spoke with Rolddy Leyva, Managing Vice President & Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, to learn more about the company’s initiatives during Pride 2021, why this work is important to him, his advice to organizations just starting on their DEI, and more.

Seramount: How are you celebrating Pride month this year? What are you most excited about?

Rolddy Levya, Managing VP & Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging: As a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, Pride is personal for me and more than just a month-long observance. For as much as we have to celebrate as a community, we also have so much more work to do. It’s important to remember that Pride began as a protest, not a party – a community demanding equal rights and protections and activated by the Stonewall riots of 1969.

At Capital One, we view the meaning and significance of Pride through a similar lens – one of celebrating the progress we’ve made in LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion, but also remaining focused on the work we must all do to ensure these advances are protected and that progress continues to be made into the future. That’s why I’m so proud of Capital One for its long-standing commitment to the LGBTQ+ community – from being one of the first major companies to offer same-sex partner benefits in 1997 to our recent advocacy for the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring LGBTQ+ people receive equal protections under the law.

This year, Capital One has launched a comprehensive, national approach to observing and celebrating Pride – what we’re referring to as “Pride is Powerful”. From a national campaign to local activations and programming across our US Cafes and Branches – we’re committed to supporting LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion in our workplaces and across our communities.

One of the elements of our Pride activation this year that I’m most proud of is our support of LGBTQ+ community organizations. We’ve provided $500,000 in grants to two national organizations – Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and the National Center for Transgender Equality as part of our Pride observance this year. These partner organizations are leading important and essential bodies of work to advance safe, equitable and inclusive communities for LGBTQ+ people and we are proud to contribute towards their efforts through these grant awards.

Seramount: Do you have any plans you’d like to share for how you’ll be participating in Pride Month in June?

Rolddy: There’s so much to look forward to this Pride – especially as our communities begin to reopen and people start coming back together again. I’m looking forward to participating in The Hill’s 2021 LGBTQ+ Summit on June 23rd. As part of Capital One’s engagement, I had the opportunity to sit down with Senator Sarah McBride to hear her story, the issues impacting LGBTQ+ people and how policy and companies like ours can advocate for and support equity and belonging. It was a fantastic conversation that I’m excited to see featured in the overall summit programming.

Capital One Cafés will also be a fun destination this month. Each year, we transform our Café spaces with interactive design installations that recognize the rich diversity, history and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community while also raising awareness on important issues affecting them. When we come together and express our Pride for the LGBTQ+ community, we unite to create something larger and more powerful than ourselves.

Seramount: What is the most rewarding part about your role as Managing Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB)? What’s the most challenging?

Rolddy: I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to lead a team of DIB professionals who are committed to creating a workplace culture that celebrates diverse perspectives, fosters collaboration, and ensures associates of all backgrounds can thrive as their best, most authentic selves. Diversity, inclusion & belonging is one of the most important values we have as an organization – and as a society. We all have a need to feel connected, to feel safe, to belong. That’s why I do this work and why I’m so fortunate to lead DIB at Capital One where leadership and associates are so deeply committed to it. It’s incredibly rewarding and inspiring to know that we’re leading work that is helping to make our workplace and the communities we live in stronger and better – for everyone.

Of course, this is hard work and comes with its fair share of challenges (it’s why we call it “work”). Building sustainable culture change takes time and requires significant effort and perseverance. That’s why we refer to this as a life-long focus for us at Capital One – we will hold ourselves accountable to doing the work and making progress, but we also recognize this work is dynamic, will change over time, and will never be complete.

Seramount: What advice would you give to companies that are just beginning their DEI efforts?

Rolddy: I’d share three words: Listen, Learn & Lead.

  • Listen: Listen to your employees. Seek to understand their lived experiences – as members of their community and of your organization. Be prepared to hear some hard truths and lean in with humility and an openness to receive those.
  • Learn: Leverage the insights from your employees to understand where you are as an organization on these topics and to inform your path to progress. Solicit the help of experts in the field to help grow your understanding and seek out learning on your own to grow your awareness and capability as a leader.
  • Lead: Take all that awareness and convert it into thoughtful action. Invest in DEI the way you would any other major priority – hire great talent to help build and lead the work, fund it accordingly, set the tone for who you want to be as an organization, and hold yourself and your leaders accountable for progress.

I’ve always believed that DIB work is about correcting the underlying systems and beliefs that act as barriers for inclusive, fair and equitable workplaces and communities. It’s about creating meaningful progress that ultimately results in greater awareness, collaboration and inclusion across an organization – and across society at large. But that requires a willingness on the part of leaders and individuals alike to listen, to learn, and to lead together towards that common goal.

At Seramount, we love to hear the stories of our DBP members’ personal and corporate journeys, as well as sharing the work they are bringing to light. We’d like to say thank you to Rolddy Levya and the Capital One team for all of the tremendous work and progress they are making in the DI&B space.