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By William Kapfer
Head of Global Supplier Diversity
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Head of Global Supplier Diversity

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Pride is Paving the Way for Others

From the earliest age I can remember, diversity and acceptance had been ingrained in my family culture. My earliest memories are of working with people in my grandfather’s grocery store who were different than I was. Stocking shelves, making sandwiches and bagging groceries, I worked side-by-side with people from all walks of life. Throughout that experience, my grandfather taught me the importance of living one’s values—embracing and honoring all people, regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. He enabled me to embrace everyone, including myself.

Completing college was probably one of the first major goals I set for myself. No one in my family had ever gone to college—and I was determined to be the first. I had my first taste of banking nearly 30 years ago. In 1987 I was recruited by First Interstate Bank of California to participate in a formal management-training program, which landed me a position in bank management. While working in this small-community branch, I was able to learn and understand more about the minority-owned, small businesses culture and the best ways to serve the unique needs of inspiring entrepreneurs.

“Work is stressful enough; to expend any energy trying to hide who you are just wasn’t worth it.”

William Kapfer, Head of Global Supplier Diversity

While my professional journey has given me opportunities to meet and work with many extraordinary people, I spent the beginning of my career navigating questions about my personal life. After a while, I was concerned that I was perceived as aloof and not a team player. Also troubling was that my coworkers were not getting to know the real me.

I decided to take a leap of faith and come out. Work is stressful enough; to expend any energy trying to hide who you are just wasn’t worth it.

When I was approached by JPMorgan Chase with an opportunity to work on the Global Supplier Diversity team—I never looked back.

The JPMorgan Chase Global Supplier Diversity Program connects diverse businesses with opportunities that will promote economic growth in our communities. We believe diverse suppliers generate cost savings for the company, promote innovation and create value for our shareholders. When we include diverse companies in our sourcing process, and they meet our requirements, they have the opportunity to grow their businesses, increase their revenue, and hire more employees in the communities they operate in. This growth translates into increased tax revenues and greater individual wealth to reinvest in local economies.

My team and I collaborate with advocacy organizations, community leaders and business units across the company to create opportunities for diverse suppliers to compete for business. We assist diverse businesses in becoming top performers in their industries by mentoring, leveraging our internal and external networks, and participating in program initiatives that support the development of entrepreneurs.

"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.”

William Kapfer, Head of Global Supplier Diversity

I’ve found that our company has done a fantastic job of supporting its LGBT employees, and the JPMorgan Chase corporate policies have kept pace with the changing national 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.

Pride-Infographic

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The advice I would give to younger LGBT people starting out in their careers is:

  • Conduct due diligence research on the companies you want to work for to see if they represent the values you support.
  • Once you’re there, continue to learn and seize every opportunity to be helpful.
  • Find a mentor from whom you can learn to better navigate your new environment.
  • Do not make light of the importance of appearance—dress and prepare yourself for the position you want, not the one you have.
  • As you move up the ladder of success—and you will—make certain that you in turn mentor someone else to climb the ladder.

Pride isn't just a month to me; it's a state of mind. It is also a constant in my life—each year I live out the values set forth in Pride month.

“It is a month of reflection; a month to ask yourself if the core values of your life are being met by the world you have made for yourself—and the company you work for.”

William Kapfer, Head of Global Supplier Diversity

Pride is about living every day out with integrity and honesty so I can make a difference for others. And this includes my work. Indeed, I believe Pride month is a celebration of people and institutions that have embraced diversity inclusion as much as it is a vehicle to encourage them to do so. It is a month of reflection; a month to ask yourself if the core values of your life are being met by the world you have made for yourself—and the company you work for.


About the Author
William Kapfer is head of Global Supplier Diversity. He holds both a Masters in Educational Administration and a Doctorate in Media Studies and Leadership from Northern Arizona University.
His career includes strategic roles at Travel + Leisure and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, and Walton Isaacson agency, the top African American advertising agency in the country, started by Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
He has been recognized by a number of organizations for his contributions, including being appointed by the Governor of Arizona to the Arizona Commission on the Arts; receiving the Key to the City by the Mayor of Tucson for his efforts on human rights issues in the community, and being named Alumnus of the year by his undergraduate alma matter the University of Arizona.


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