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Columbia College Alumnus. PRIDE ERG Member. Lead Marketing Programs.

Michael O

Name: Michael O.
Job Title: Project Manager, Global Marketing & Marketing Chair, PRIDE Employee Resource Group

How does your role contribute to the company’s goals?

Within Global Marketing, we strive for acceptance—for merchants locally and globally to accept Discover (and our partners) as form of payment. When joining this team back in 2008, this was the challenge I was most excited about—why would anyone turn down a form of payment?

Diversity beyond a marketing campaign

I value and appreciate the diversity here at Discover—race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age (millennials to baby boomers)—I see all these when I’m at Discover. Not only do I see it and value it, Discover, as a whole, also appreciates and values it. Walking through the halls is like walking down a street in Chicago—every type of person is here and welcomed.

The greatest experience I’ve had at Discover has probably been my work within the PRIDE Employee Resource Group (“ERG”) at Discover and marketing our Discover it® Card featuring the pride colors to the LGBTQ community. As a gay Discover employee (and cardmember, of course), I want the whole LGBTQ community to know how much Discover supports us. I really like the authenticity of our LGBTQ marketing—I see it as a FOR US, BY US campaign, LGBTQ Discover employees reaching out to the LGBTQ community. These marketing initiatives and ideas didn’t come from the ‘Big Dogs’ in the corner office… it came from the hearts of the LGBTQ employees.

Value comes from being your true self

Because of the overall diversity at Discover, I felt I could be my true self at the office—that I wouldn’t be judged or graded on for being gay. I’m lucky, even in 2019, not everyone can feel this way. When you walk into work not being your true self, you aren’t WHOLE. Your managers and co-workers, they are only getting maybe 60% of YOU. You don’t present as well, you don’t share your ideas because you’re worried your true self will be discovered and judged. When you can walk into work as your true self, you present better, you think in ways your managers and co-workers may not be thinking. And this is what every company needs—every employee walking in being their true Selves and sharing their ideas.

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Helping to change hearts and minds

Helping to change hearts and minds

Employee: Kristin

Job Title: Manager – Payment Services, Product Development

I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. I also have an MBA in Economic Crime and Fraud Management from Utica College. I’ve worked in financial services for 16 years, focused primarily on operations and risk management.

 Your first day at Discover, what were your thoughts?

“I am surrounded by smart, funny people who love what they do. This was a good move.” After 8 years with the company, I am happy to say I feel the same exact way.

Diving a little deeper, how is Discover following our values of “Doing The Right Thing”?

I’ve been fortunate to be on teams of smart, passionate people. We work hard, we have fun, and we get stuff done. Sometimes you befriend your colleagues and sometimes they are just teammates who come and go. I’m proud of the work I’ve done in product and fraud risk management, but perhaps my proudest and most humbling achievements have been with the PRIDE Employee Resource Group at Discover’s headquarters.

Over the years I’ve managed PRIDE’s education initiatives before becoming co-chair for our chapter. Of my time with the group, two particular instances stand out. We’ve had a speaker from PFLAG present on campus multiple times, once on how to be an Ally to the LGBT community and once on trans inclusion. After the ally training, we had a new member come to the next membership meeting and share that she had been moved to tears by the training. She freely admitted she hadn’t been the most accepting person in the past, but the speaker had altered her perspective and she wanted to change. Needless to say, we welcomed her with open arms!

Another memory that stands out was after a trans ally training. We received an email from an attendee whose neighbor’s child had recently come out as trans. The neighbor was supportive, but wasn’t sure what to do next. This employee leapt into action – they gave the neighbor their copy of PFLAG’s guide to being a trans ally, directed them to the PFLAG website, and shared a few quick tips they remembered from the training. The neighbor was grateful, and asked for additional copies of the guide for the grandparents. Both of these were powerful moments of validation for me that we are definitely Doing the Right Thing – not only arming people with information, but helping to change hearts and minds.

Through these experiences, I’ve been able to clearly see the impact of the work I do reflected in the results we’ve achieved – and that has been immensely rewarding.