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Capital One Canada president on leading and holding her team accountable for change

Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
·6-min read
Dr Jennifer R Jackson, President, Capital One Canada. Photo: Capital One Canada.
Dr Jennifer R Jackson, president, Capital One Canada. Photo: Capital One Canada

Dr Jennifer R Jackson, president, Capital One Canada has been crowned as the number one female executive role model in the world.

The 2020 HERoes Women Role Model Executives list celebrates 100 women who are leading by example and driving change to increase gender diversity in the workplace.

These executives work within at least three levels of the chief executive at large companies, or are the leaders of smaller organisations. All of the executives — who must identify as a woman at work and can be of any nationality and based in any country — were nominated by peers and colleagues, or put themselves forward.

Jackson’s efforts to consistently elevate women around her and champion for diversity and inclusion at work was noted across a large raft of efforts both inside and outside the company.

From championing for internal Diversity Recruiting initiatives for the enterprise since joining in 2012, to ensuring there’s a continued focus on building a pipeline of diverse talent while supporting hiring, development, and promotion practices for underrepresented groups, Jackson leads by example with her actions.

She also serves on the Enterprise Advisory Board for VOICES, Capital One's Black employee resource group and is an active member of EmpowHER, Capital One's women employee resource group that seeks to engage women through programs that add value in our communities, foster development opportunities, and increase engagement at all levels.

Yahoo Finance caught up with Jackson to find out what have been stand out moments in her career and how she sees change manifest in the workplace.

Q: Why is it important to have these kinds of lists?

A: Lists like these are important as they inspire others to see what is possible and to broaden perspectives of what a leader looks like. We need to continue to break down barriers and highlight achievements of women in leadership positions for those coming behind us.

Q: How does it feel to be listed as #1 on the Women Executive List?

A: To be included on the list at all, let alone to be number one, is incredibly humbling. This recognition is even sweeter because I am on the list with so many extraordinary leaders who have impacted entire industries and inspired so many people.

It has made me take a step back and reflect on what I have accomplished with my teams and collaborators throughout my career, and how proud I am of our work together.

Q: What does being a role model for you look and feel like?

A: I’ve had a few key role models throughout my career that have given me the confidence over time to move from believing I could accomplish certain goals to knowing I could.

The thought that I could inspire others in a similar way makes me feel proud. I therefore consider being a role model a great responsibility and an opportunity to give back.

Q: What has been one or two of your most standout moments in your career AND when it comes to helping others?

A: What stands out most in my career is when I get a note from someone with whom I have had a mentorship conversation or sometimes just a chance meeting, often after weeks or months have passed, and they take the time to share how my guidance has changed their personal or professional trajectory.

When I interact with colleagues, I take those moments to quickly learn about them and try to provide a small piece of advice to help them make the next positive step. When I see their aspirations come to fruition, I, in turn, am inspired by their success and more motivated in my own journey.

Q: How do you approach intersectionality and what's your opinion on the world of work recognising the need for that?

A: All underrepresented groups face challenges, and it’s critical to acknowledge that people who fall within multiple of these groups often face additional, incremental, and unique obstacles.

Change can only begin by recognising this fact, which in turn can help us develop solutions to improve interactions, build stronger communities, and improve workplaces. The solutions should take these differences into account if we are really going to create an environment of inclusiveness and belonging for everyone.

Q: As a leader, how do you see change manifests itself in the workplace?

A: For change to manifest in the workplace, it must be a priority for leadership with clear accountability and measurements of success in place. It also must be embraced by employees at all levels who are inspired and empowered to bring that change to life in their day-to-day work and decisions. Both things have to be true for real, sustainable changes in company policy and culture.

As a leader, I have an important role to play both in setting priorities for my business and communicating with my organisation to ensure that there is a clear connection from personal ownership to achieving the collective goal.

Q: How do you hold your leadership accountable for change?

A: In order to hold leadership accountable for change, I ensure our team has clarity on goals, roles, and what success looks like at the beginning of the journey.

We work upfront to drive explicit alignment on the direction, measures of success, and what is expected of each leader. That way, we can measure ourselves along the way, and I can hold each leader (including myself) accountable for what we committed to.

Q: How do you bring allies along with you?

A: In any dynamic involving underrepresented groups, it is absolutely necessary for the majority group to engage and help reach the goals of equality and equity faster. Allies are critical to the success of any movement, and the best allies work to educate themselves in this space.

I encourage allies to take that ownership of their own role in creating an environment of inclusion and belonging, and I bring them in as trusted partners in efforts to create that change within my organisation and the community.

Q: What do you think Is the most crucial thing that someone can do daily to help make an environment more inclusive?

A: I try to reach out to at least one person each day to let them know I am thinking about them. Whether that is by sending a quick note to say hello or a brief thank you message, it’s important that people feel seen and valued.

Q: Who is your role model?

A: I am fortunate that my mother is, and has always been, my role model. With her guidance and watching her lead by example throughout her career, I learned that if I set goals for myself, worked hard, and treated others with respect and genuine care, that would drive both professional success and personal fulfilment.