Bringing Your Authentic Self to Work

Sponsored by Capital One


Image courtesy of Capital One.

Capital One
Capital One
On a recent Monday morning, Danika catches up with her team about their weekends, sharing how she made a homemade roux for gumbo and planned a trip to Walt Disney World with her wife, Leah. 
Talking about Leah at work hasn’t always come easy for her. Coworkers from a previous company told Danika to remove a picture of Leah from her desk, and she never felt support from management. 
That changed for Danika when she joined Capital One in 2005. Almost immediately, she began to see that Capital One was different, and that she could finally bring her true self to work. The company’s culture of belonging made Danika feel safe opening up about her life, talking about Leah and displaying photos with her. And when she married Leah in 2016, she invited several of her Capital One coworkers to the wedding.
“Capital One celebrates love and acceptance, whether it’s for LGBTQIA+ people, Black Lives Matter, our Asian communities or other underserved groups.” Danika said. “We can all bring our full selves to work, which allows us to flourish and make space for others to succeed.”

Growing as her authentic self 

Danika quickly got involved with Out Front, a Business Resource Group (BRG) for LGBTQIA+ associates and allies. She helped organize discussions about pronoun usage, hosted get-togethers for National Coming Out Day and attended a talk by actor Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, David Burtka. 
Leadership opportunities erupted for Danika as she attended events and built relationships with other Out Front members. She became the lead for the BRG’s Louisiana chapter in 2014 and the communications lead for its national chapter in 2021. As an Out Front leader, Danika wrote for an internal blog about her own coming out experience and what she’s learned about queer identities. She puts together a monthly newsletter for thousands of recipients that features associate stories, upcoming events and other LGBTQIA+ news you can use. 
“I’m a talker, but Out Front has given me an opportunity to listen,” Danika said. “I learn so much by hearing my amazing coworkers talk about trans visibility, LGBTQIA+ history and other topics. I feel much more educated because of how wise and patient associates are in talking about their identities.” 
As she’s tackled more for Out Front, Danika’s self-belief has prospered, leading her to apply for and get a promotion from senior market manager to her current role as project manager. She manages her team’s budget, communications, onboarding and associate engagement. 
“I wouldn’t have as much happiness or success without my Out Front family,” Danika said. “I’m meeting new people. I’m trying new things. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in who I am as a person and a professional.”

Image courtesy of Capital One.

Affirming her colleagues’ journeys

 What Danika loves most about her time at Capital One has been providing the same unconditional support she received from her leaders to her direct reports. 
 Beginning with a new colleague’s first day, Danika makes an intentional effort to meet with them and learn about their family, friends, passions and career aspirations. If she hears they want to get a college degree, she points them to our tuition assistance benefit. She gives them grace and flexibility to edit their schedules based on their family needs
 “Capital One gives me a safe space to be myself, and I want to use my position as a manager to do the same for others, whether it’s about them sharing with us their authentic self or revealing a passion they want to pursue,” Danika said. 
One associate told Danika they have a passion for writing. She encouraged and cheered on that individual as they wrote internal blog posts about Capital One benefits they use, a day in the life of their job and recaps of volunteer events. 
 “If you support and get to know someone on a human level, then you can help them find their power,” Danika said. “Capital One understands you can only reach the top tier of your abilities if you have the grace to be yourself.”

A bright spot during difficult times

 From taking leadership positions in Out Front to getting married with coworkers in attendance, Capital One has been a part of Danika’s most substantial milestones. But one of her most cherished memories with the supportive culture came after tragedy. 
 In 2020, Hurricane Laura severely damaged Danika and Leah’s home in Western Louisiana. Danika’s colleagues sprang into action immediately. They helped the couple move out of their house, sent them food and purchased toiletries. Every bit of help felt like a hug of support to Danika and Leah. 
 “I think back to the beginning of my career and how scared I was that I would never find an employer who would accept the true version of myself,” Danika said. “At Capital One, I am celebrated. I am supported through the good and bad. I’m blessed to be here.”

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