Anfernee Gray, Training Associate, "I wanted to find a workplace where my identity as a gay man of color wasn’t something I had to tamp down. I found that at OppLoans."

When I joined OppLoans in June of 2018 one of the things that attracted me to the company was that leadership encouraged employees to be themselves. If you want to be successful here, you don’t have to act a certain way. If you work hard, you’re going to get noticed for it and you’re going to be appreciated. You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

That hasn’t been true at my previous jobs. I’m naturally a boisterous person; I love to socialize and get close with my coworkers. At a job I had prior to OppLoans, it was a problem if you were boisterous or if you were friends with everyone or overly social.

But that’s who I am as a person, and I don’t want to spend my working days pretending to be someone I’m not. I had grown used to an environment where I was told, verbatim, that if I wanted to get promoted, I couldn’t be close with the people on my team. That they wouldn’t take me seriously.

I wanted to find a workplace where my identity as a gay man of color wasn’t something I had to tamp down. I found that at OppLoans.

My bosses at OppLoans encourage me to hang out with my team, just like they did when they started, because respect doesn’t happen without trust, and trust is something that must be built. At OppLoans our cultural values start with getting to know the people you’re working alongside, to see them as people, not just coworkers.

When I first started I was amazed how often teams went out together after work. When I had been here just three weeks my team members encouraged me to join them out after work. When I went I was pleasantly surprised to see just how many OppLoans employees were there and what a genuinely good time they were having together.

This was my kind of place, clearly. Now, a year later, I’ve even received the promotion that I never could have received at my previous jobs. I am now a Training Associate, helping new Loan Advocates learn what it takes to deliver a five-star customer experience.

People here are engaged–with each other, with the company, with our mission–and recently we have taken that engagement to a whole new level. For instance, an employee Slack channel for LGBTQIAP+ issues and events has blossomed into Oppt For Dignity, an official OppLoans employee-led community.

The goals of Oppt For Dignity include creating a company culture that fosters LGBTQIAP+ inclusion, building strong community partnerships with LGBTQIAP+ organizations, and educating employees on tactics to be supportive allies for the LGBTQIAP+ community.

Helping to foster this vital space for LGBTQIAP+ employees and allies is exactly the sort of opportunity that OppLoans is great at creating for its employees. In my first year here I assisted the training team, our front desk staff, our People Team, and worked on other administrative projects. The company is always looking for ways to help interested employees advance their careers and create a better, more positive work environment.

OppLoans also creates opportunities for employees to recognize and support each other in ways that go beyond encouraging teams to socialize after work. Oppt To Give is a quarterly program where employees can nominate each other for the opportunity to gift $1,000 to a charity of their choice. Four people receive the honor every quarter, and employees can be nominated for acts big and small.

Last year, I had the honor of receiving Oppt To Give. When I read over the nominations, so many of them were for small acts of teamwork that, frankly, I wasn’t even conscious of doing. I was just being myself. OppLoans is the first place I’ve worked where who I am wasn’t just accepted, it’s celebrated.