The world is in an age of technology that people from decades ago likely could not fathom. With the emergence of AI and the range of tech products offered, there is little that people can’t imagine regarding innovation and advancement. This new tech era has revealed there isn’t just one way to create, to develop, or even to exist. In many ways, this technology amplified the necessity and interwoven strategies of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

The intersection of tech and DEI often manifests unexpectedly – in organizations where many people would not naturally think of those intersections. Capital One, for instance, is primarily known as a finance organization but is also a leader in technology and innovation. During a 2023 interview with Built In, the firm’s Director of Product Management, David Henkel, summed up its innovative approach. 

“We’re a tech company disguised as a bank,” he said. 

The work of people like Maureen Jules-Perez has cemented this identity marker. As the Division CIO, MVP of People Tech, and Head of Enterprise DIB (Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging), Jules-Perez uses a model she calls “Tech for Good”, where she uses tech in new ways to improve the human experience and create space for others to rise and thrive.

“Tech for Good is about driving innovation with humanity and using tech to drive positive change. As an engineer at heart, I am energized by the strategic and data-backed approach to problem-solving. This means constantly asking, ‘How can things be better?’ All while using tech in new ways to improve the human experience,” she explained to AFROTECH. “In other words, create thoughtful spaces for associates and customers to rise and thrive. I can leverage my two passions – Tech and DIB – to do even greater good.” 

And making things better is what sits at the core for Jules-Perez. This work of equity has deep connections from childhood. Spending time growing up in Brooklyn and Miami, she is the daughter of a hardworking, immigrant, entrepreneurial, single mother of five. This contextual backdrop fueled her passion for making sure people always felt included and valued. 

Jules-Perez’s passion for DIB work led her to Capital One after spending time as an electrical engineer and quality assurance engineer. During her first year, she led tech transformations and was also part of the HR Senior Leadership Team. Five years later, she transitioned into the role as the Divisional CIO of People Tech, leading a global software and systems engineering team, and also served as Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) at Capital One, combining her roles for tech, product, and DIB. 

“At Capital One, we recognize that small businesses form the backbone of the U.S. economy. Research from the Capital One Insights Center shows that Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs not only have a more difficult time accessing initial seed funding, but they get far less of it than other founders,” Jules-Perez explained. 

The company values its diverse perspectives and innovative approaches, recognizing the importance of understanding customer needs thoroughly. This philosophy drives Capital One’s strategic initiatives, such as its collaborations with Boss Women Media and #WeAllGrow Latina, aimed at supporting Black and Hispanic businesses. Through these partnerships, Capital One offers financial investments and grants to empower underrepresented entrepreneurs. Moreover, the company provides dedicated resources like boot camps and development programs, fostering community, personal growth, and meaningful discussions essential for entrepreneurial success.

Capital One, however, is not just taking a bold stance for its partners. It also ensures that those within the organization feel valued through a commitment to advancing the future of work. 

“I’ve had incredible support to ensure I’m set up for success. From day one, Capital One has provided me with mentorship, sponsorship, career discussions and advice through coaches, conferences, learning and development, networking, etc., and opportunities to lead,” Jules-Perez said. 

She continued, “One of my goals as Head of DIB is to expand our mentorship and sponsorship programs to ensure that all emerging leaders have similar opportunities.”

“Think of what more we could do. With an engineering mindset, imagine building towards a future that uses AI while mitigating bias or better implementing tools that improve understanding of our progress and opportunities in representation. There are countless ways to use tech for good and advance the human experience—with heart,” Jules-Perez described. 

There are myriad ways to harness technology for positive impact, enhancing the human experience with empathy. By integrating technology, people, and culture, Capital One aims to deepen its understanding of diverse experiences and identify areas for improvement, paving the way for everyone to thrive.