'Inside the Circles’ podcast: What bravery means to these LGBTQ+ leaders

June 30, 2021 | By Vicki Hyman

Being brave wasn’t a choice for Mira Belgrave, as much as her identity as a nonbinary woman was not a choice.

A digital communications senior specialist at Mastercard, Belgrave fought who she was for a long time: “It was knowing that I would have to go through all these medical hoops, all these legal hoops, potentially losing a job, losing a relationship. It wasn’t until I didn’t have a choice anymore and I was like, ‘I’m not going to move forward if don’t make a change.' That was the point where I actually decided to transition.”

In the latest episode of "Inside the Circles,” Mastercard’s podcast about the future of work and the topics of now, host Latoya Bennett-Johnson chats with Belgrave and another vocal LGBTQ+ champion Ashley Thomas, a product manager in Cyber & Intelligence, about authenticity, intersectionality, and visibility in the workplace as we close out Pride Month.

“To be your authentic self takes a lot of bravery,” Thomas says. “For me, being brave was acknowledging that, in the smallest form, I’m not going to wear a skirt to the office because that’s not my jam. For others, they’re going to wear a skirt to the office because that was his jam. It takes a lot of bravery to show up and say, ‘Well, this is who I am. Accept it. Be cool with it.’ Me not having to think about it allows me innovate bigger, and better.”

Thomas and Belgrave are both members of Mastercard’s PRIDE business resource group for LGBTQ+ employees and allies (Thomas is the global co-lead), and they also discussed the group’s role in developing Mastercard’s True Name feature. It allows transgender people to use their chosen name on their payment card, and the feature has recently expanded to Europe. It’s just one way Mastercard has supported LGBTQ+ rights and visibility outside its walls, and inside them too – the company recently improved its health coverage for gender-affirming procedures and fertility coverage in North America, along with an earlier move to extend parental leave and expand it to all new parents, regardless of gender. 

“Inclusion really means taking a look around and seeing who’s missing from the table,” Belgrave says. “The important step after that is looking at the group, at the organization and figuring out why those people aren’t there. For me it’s really about accessibility. You need to make your workplace or organization accessible from every angle you can.”

To hear more from Bennett-Johnson, Belgrave and Thomas, subscribe to “Inside the Circles” on Apple Podcasts or stream it directly in the player above.

Vicki Hyman, director, communications, Mastercard