Story provided by Stacey Stevenson, Managing Director, Contact Center Experience
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” This quote by Audre Lorde (a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement) has significant meaning to me for two reasons: It resonates deeply with who I am and how I choose to live my life. Growing up, I was often misunderstood. Being a young African American girl living in South Texas, I was expected to act a certain “proper” way. My approach to the world around me and my unorthodox thinking was quite unpopular, and rarely were my thoughts appreciated. The unpopularity bothered me somewhat, but I was determined to be me. Another reason Lorde’s quote has significant meaning to me is that it describes the culture that has been fostered at the Charles Schwab Corporation.
When Chuck started Charles Schwab over 40 years ago, he did not allow anyone to define him. He pushed the envelope; he questioned the status quo and made unpopular decisions. As a result, he not only built a successful company but a culture that is created on constant evolution and evaluation of who we are and continuous improvement and refinement. This has resulted in a company that values and celebrates a spectrum of diversity (thoughts, race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability) which is the type of company that I want to work for.
When I started my career in Corporate America, I found it difficult to integrate into the corporate culture. Companies were often focused on creating a culture of people who thought and looked the same and where uniformity of thought was honored more than out of the box thinking and, adherence to the status quo was something that was encouraged. Often times people who looked like me were nowhere to be found, and once again (as what happened when I was growing up), my unconventional thinking and approach was met with “we don’t do it that way here”.
Being a member of the LGBTQ community added another layer of complexity to my assimilation and acceptance in Corporate America. This sort of culture never appealed to me, and I did not feel like I could bring my entire self to work. It took me 20 years of feeling I had to hide “me” before I was selected to work for such an accepting company as Charles Schwab. Not only do I not have to hide anymore, but I am appreciated and honored for being who I am.
For me, Black History month is not only a celebration of my African American heritage, but it is also a time to celebrate all facets of my diversity. So this Black History Month lets’s not only celebrate African American culture but also let’s celebrate diversity within the culture as well as those companies like Schwab who have created a culture of acceptance for people who look like me.
I am proud. I am welcomed. I am a black woman. I am Charles Schwab.
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