Women in Tech: Fostering Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Capital One’s VP of Technology, Maureen Jules-Perez, explains how she creates a workplace where everyone thrives
To honor the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’re reflecting on the practices that optimize technology-oriented workplaces for diversity and inclusion. So we went to an expert: Capital One’s VP of Technology, Maureen Jules-Perez, for her perspective on creating a workplace that works for everyone on a tech team.
Over several decades in the technology industry, Jules-Perez has learned much about building high-performing engineering teams and standing up a great work culture. In that time, she has worked as an electrical engineer, a software engineer, a QA engineer, product lead, diversity advisor and as a tech leader.
And now as the newest Accountable Executive (AE) of Capital One’s Blacks in Tech business resource group, Jules-Perez is putting that experience to use to continue her path as a compassionate and human-centered leader to advance inclusion for all associates.
We asked her about the diversity, inclusion and belonging practices that guide her leadership style and about how she’s focused on helping others identify and utilize their “superpowers.”
Think Like A Talent Cultivator (Gardener)
Throughout her career, Jules-Perez has learned what works as a strong leader and what doesn’t. Sometimes it was through trial and error with her own teams. Other times it was learning to “manage up” by adapting and thriving within difficult managerial relationships.
A good lesson she learned early on has been to “trust up-front” to help cultivate psychological safety—a shared belief on teams that people can feel comfortable voicing opinions without fear of being punished or humiliated. By trusting that the people she’s hired are subject matter experts and leaders in their spaces, she trusts her team to set out clear expectations and accomplish results.
“Being an effective leader is like being a gardener who creates a blooming flower bed with fertile soil,” Jules-Perez says. “Like a gardener surveying her field to see what plants can be included to produce a thriving garden, a leader’s role is to find the talent among associates who may not otherwise see their own potential. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking if associates need more quiet time or getting a pulse check of what associates need. My job as a leader is to make sure I’m bringing oxygen, soil, sunlight and water to the flower bed.”
Understand that Work-Life Is An Intersectionality of Real Life
At a time when work may feel abstract and overwhelming because of the remote work environment, Jules-Perez understands that not everyone has the luxury of working in a quiet space like they would in a physical work location. That’s why since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maureen has held frequent team gatherings (in various forms) with her broader team to check in first on life, then on work. From having “real talk” and checking in on how associates are “really” doing to having fun together with virtual games and group activities, Maureen’s team cares for one another as a family would.
Her Day 1 Declaration is forthright: Work-life is an intersectionality of real life. This means that her team will provide a unique and nonjudgmental space for associates to work as they adapt to real life.
“My life lesson number one during COVID times is to never apologize for your child or cat bursting onto the video call,” Jules-Perez explains. “If your family calls you, we will let you go without any shame or judgment. My main thing has always been to declare upfront that we are a safe, supportive and inclusive space. Even during onboarding on day one, I want people to know that they’re invited to the proverbial dance. I want them to know where the dance is held. I want them to know that they don’t have to dance if they go. I want them to know that they can ask to turn up the music or change the song. For me, I want my engineering team to feel like they’re part of a second family.”
Allow Rising Leaders to Thrive and Shine
One of the biggest areas of focus for Jules-Perez as the Blacks in Tech Accountable Executive is working with upcoming talent in non-executive roles.
Given the breadth of talent represented by the thousands of Blacks in Tech associates, Jules-Perez wants to make sure the company develops the right associate talents and creates the right mix of intersectionality. She will be focusing on the three “R”s: representation, retention, and rising through the ranks.
“I’m looking to align our work around the three R’s. Representation is where we make sure we have diversity in talent and thought. Retention focuses on the entire associate journey from the beginning of their careers to standing up content and programming to truly honing their talents through development, workshops, rewards and recognition. Rise means allowing our associates to advance—not just through the promotion process—but stepping up in different ways to contribute to the greater tech industry, their own communities or cultures.”
Learn more about how Maureen and her team are creating change: