My DEI Journey at Enova
By Jasmine Kent
In March of 2017, I joined Enova, unsure of what my future would hold. I was nervous but ambitious and eager to make my mark. I’m a people person, so my first order of business was to find my people. While managing client calls, building out project plans and negotiating with data vendors, I was able to dedicate some time to extracurriculars. I am drawn to changemakers, people who see a situation or circumstance and have the desire to make it better. I also love to laugh, so those who don’t take themselves too seriously and appreciate humor are always on my radar. During my first Analytics meeting, Joe DeCosmo had a call to action, asking if anyone was interested in joining the team’s culture committee. Umm, yes please! Prior to coming to Enova, I worked in experiential marketing, so thinking of creative ways to spark engagement, was right up my alley. I had found my people. In addition to that, I was invited to join Women @ Enova. It was incredibly valuable to be able to meet with individuals who share a similar experience as myself, to discuss our challenges, and to support and celebrate each other. More of my people. These women were fierce, diverse and determined to forge a new way. We planned the second ever ChiWitCon, doubling the first year in size. We broke into sub-committees to ensure as many cultural holidays as we could were planned and celebrated. The leads from each of these committees then formed what we now know as the DEI Council. We were small but scrappy, and through new and existing relationships, these committees grew, processes were created, celebrations were had and community was built.
I look back every so often to reflect on the direct impact that DEI has had on me and the impact that these dedicated individuals have made at Enova. We’ve piloted different educational programs. The movement has grown to six different affinity groups, representing a wide range of different cultures and people groups. They have taught me how to stand up for myself, how to be an ally for others, and the beauty and importance of celebrating who we are. These groups are now showcased on our Enova website, inviting differing perspectives, abilities and talents to come join our team. As I look around, we named the newest Chicago conference rooms after Katherine Johnson, Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr; brilliant women innovators who changed the course of our history. Throughout the office I see pride and transgender flags, festive masks from our Carnivale celebration, and stickers and t-shirts galore celebrating the many years of ChiWitCon. We truly have come together as diverse people ready to celebrate each others’ differences, support each others’ journeys, and also mourn each others’ tragedies.
The biggest impact DEI has had on me was shaping my professional direction. Launching programming, participating in groups, building trust with leaders and having incredibly difficult conversations prepared me for this new role. In October of 2020, I was asked to co-lead DEI at Enova on a part-time basis. What an honor to be recognized as someone super passionate about the movement and to be responsible for helping shape the strategy of DEI at an enterprise level. After over three years of experience at Enova, I understood how things worked. I had internalized the Operate As An Owner value, over the years testing out new ideas, pushing some boundaries and exploring what resonates. With these relationships established, I knew how to present ideas to generate buy-in, and I had the support to drive these initiatives forward. After a while, there was a shift in my heart that drew me closer to DEI. I voiced my desire to step into this role on a full-time basis and made the case. It took some patience and, ultimately, leadership enabled me to take the leap.
My journey at Enova has required a lot of effort, involved a bit of risk, stepping into the unknown and, oftentimes, into discomfort. I am honored that the leadership at Enova entrusted me to lead such an important mission. I respect the strong emphasis that Enova puts on building a diverse, inclusive culture, and I’m proud to continue driving this forward. My journey has only just begun. I’m excited to see what the future holds as the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead.
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t throw in a quote somewhere. Maya Angelou once said, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” I love what I am doing and am thankful to Enova for the opportunity to do what I love!