I’m excited to partner with Capital One on the second post in our “Working Mom” edition of LBS Mompreneur Diaries, featuring women of color who are killing it at work and at home. Capital One is consistently recognized for its exceptional workplace culture and for supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives across the entire organization. That’s why I was so excited to work with them to offer this series, because they get it. They’ve been ranked on Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” and Working Mother Magazine’s “100 Best Companies” to name a few.
Hopefully you read and loved our interview with working mom Kenya Paul. Our second featured working mom is Alicia Thompson, Manager of Supplier Diversity at Capital One. We talked about her role as a working mom to two beautiful children, what she hopes to teach them about diversity and inclusion, and advice that every mom should consider when picking a place to work.
What is your official role at Capital One? What do you do day to day?
That is hard to describe – no day is ever the same. My role at Capital One is manager of the Supplier Diversity team. Suppliers are any organization that Capital One purchases from like furniture or paper, consulting services or staffing. Our team’s job is to connect diverse suppliers – businesses that are owned and managed by someone who is diverse – to groups within Capital One who are looking to purchase goods or services from an outside vendor. We do this work in conjunction with internal partners from lines of business and alongside our nonprofit partners like the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and National Minority Supplier Development Council that help us identify certified diverse-owned businesses. Our program currently includes minority-, woman-, disability-, service-disabled veteran-, and LGBT-owned businesses.
When you were young did you see yourself doing something like this?
No, no never. I went to undergrad for architecture and then I worked in education for years after participating in Teach for America. I always saw myself in the arts or in the teaching world. It just so happens that in these roles I focused on diversity and inclusion quite often. And that’s what led me toward my current role.
How would you describe yourself as a child? What are some of the qualities you displayed and how do you feel they have helped you develop?
I was creative. Really, I had to be a voracious reader as both my parents were librarians. When I focused on something I was “all-in”. I think that passion and being focused has been critical to my role, from being an educator teaching students, to my role now in supplier diversity.
I see you have two small children. How old are they?
My son Quinn just turned 3 and my daughter Ava will turn 2 in December.
How has Capital One helped you as a mom and what do you love about working there?
For starters, both of our children are adopted and so we found Capital One’s benefits were inclusive to our family needs. We adopted locally and our children are both siblings. All of our adoption fees were covered as was my parental leave – and that has been a huge benefit.
From a cultural perspective, my team at Capital One couldn’t be more supportive. My husband and I had less than 24 hours-notice about bringing our son home. To be able to go to my manager and say “I think we’re bringing home a baby tomorrow and I’m not 100% sure yet, but I think I’m going to have to start maternity leave tomorrow”. He and my team responded with excitement and support. I was told to unplug without worry and to take my time at home with my family. It was really amazing. I’m on a small team of four people, so their encouragement was a huge relief.
To have that happen again 14 months later when Quinn’s sister arrived and we weren’t expecting it, and to be given the same support, was a blessing. Every step along the way has been the same. The culture, benefits and great technology that allows for flexibility – it’s all big. To top it all off, Capital One has a thriving Adoption Network that has provided our family with support from beginning the process through best practices in communicating adoption stories with our children.
Can you explain some of the lessons that you hope to teach your kids about diversity in the workplace?
That’s a great question. I would say one of the things that I’ve taken away from my role is that I want my kids to grow up in an inclusive world around a variety of people with different perspectives. From gender, ethnic or socioeconomic diversity to differing opinions on how to navigate the world. Inclusion is embedded in the job that I do in supplier diversity and how we work every day at Capital One. It feels so organic and natural.
I am bi-racial and my parents in the 60’s and 70’s were navigating in a different world, but that was always at the forefront for our family. My mother was raised Catholic and my father grew up Baptist so they decided our family was going to visit different churches and explore other religions. It has always been a part of who I am and Capital One is the right fit for me because it embodies that same respect for all.
Any advice for working moms about choosing a place to work?
I would tell them to understand all the different opportunities that are there for you as a parent. Do your homework and explore the different employment opportunities available – from culture to benefits to having some flexibility around your schedule. Not every job requires sitting behind a desk from 9 to 5. Speak to your leadership about your needs. If favorable options aren’t there, look to broaden your horizons at a workplace that will afford them to you.
Photos by Carmen Dougherty
This post is sponsored by Capital One. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.