Out in the Workplace: Jimmy Contreras, VP of US Regional Communications at JPMorgan Chase

Jimmy Contreras wears a light blue blazer and kelly green polo shirt in a professional headshot. He smiles at the camera in front of a gray background.
Jimmy Contreras.

Jimmy Contreras is the Vice President of US Regional Communications at JPMorgan Chase where he leads external communications, including media relations, across the Tri-State area. He is a creative strategist and branding expert who has helped tell the stories of the institutions he’s supported. He currently lives with his dog and husband in Collingswood, NJ — a community he adores — and commutes into Philadelphia for his job.

Contreras is openly gay and talked with PGN about being out in the workplace. Some of the conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

When it comes to being open and out as yourself in your workplace, did you make a formal decision to share those things about yourself or did that evolve over time? What was any of that like for you?
(Laugh.) I’ve always been out in the workplace. I know that might seem far-fetched for some people — but since my first job, I always kind of thought, “I’m going to be who I am and be the real me.”

In my first professional job — not that I needed to identify that I was gay or tell people that I was gay — but I just kind of was like, “This is who I am.” I think that if you have a conversation with me, I’ve always been very open about my sexuality, about who I am. I never hid it.

Why was that important to you?
I think that that goes back to me growing up because I had a very sheltered upbringing. I grew up in Idaho, and everybody in Idaho was either Mormon or Catholic. I wasn’t out when I was still at home. It wasn’t broadly accepted. So I think that that was my way of saying that whole, like, “I’m queer, I’m here” kind of statement.

What have been your biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve dealt with while being out in the workplace?
I have to be honest — I have not. I’ve been very lucky that I have always had a very supportive workplace — when I was working in the nonprofit sector, working in the world of communications on the agency side, when I was working in hospitality, working with Marriott — I’ve had very open work families no matter where I’ve worked in my career.

Is there anything specific you can shout out as something that made those people or those places especially supportive?
I don’t think there was ever anything that had to be said. I knew that they had my back and I had their back. I was never treated differently. And that, I think, is the most important thing — because I grew up, like I said, in a very sheltered and very conservative upbringing in Idaho. My goal was always to be accepted and wanted, and I think that I’ve been very lucky in my career with my workplaces that I have always had that — especially here working with JPMorgan Chase. It’s a very open and accepting environment for all no matter who you are or what you are.

Is there anything that you do specifically to try to let folks know that they’re also safe with you and that you’ll support them no matter what?
Oh, absolutely. Like if I ever feel or encounter coworkers that seem unsure about saying they’re a specific something, I always love to be an ally to be sure that they feel safe and accepted. I’ve always been very happy to have a very accepting workplace, so I want to ensure that I make it the same way for others.

Tell me what it’s like to be out in your broader industry.
I think that this industry is very accepting and that there aren’t any kind of barriers — I don’t think there’s anything that makes people not feel comfortable to be out in the workplace.

Do you have any feeling as to why that might be? Is there anything specific about your industry that you think makes it a more open and affirming space?
I can’t speak for the world of finance and banking, but I think that we live in a much more accepting world in communications.

Do you have any advice for other queer professionals?
If you are queer and struggling to come out in the workplace, find an ally — whether that person is also queer or if they’re not queer. Let them help you share your voice and share who you are. I think that will make it easier.

I think that we all need to serve as allies for each other and in the workplace. And what better way to do it than just to be there for each other and to be one big family? At the end of the day, we’re all human and we all just want to be accepted and loved. Just be yourself, and as long as you’re your authentic self, people will accept you no matter what. It’s also important to always try to find a mentor — somebody you look up to — and have them mentor you or be that person who opens doors for you. 

At the end of the day, the goal of being a good ally and a good gay person, for me, is always about being able to help somebody else who is not where you are — or if they are, to have them help you make space for others. We also always have to think about the people who are coming in behind us — or it could literally be our office mate next door to us and they just don’t feel comfortable. We just have to create that open space for everyone.

Do you have any other thoughts you want to share?
I also want to share that I’m also a member of our JP Morgan Pride, which is the official LGBTQ+ business resource group. We have over 38,000 members globally with 33 chapters firm-wide. In the US alone, we have 21,000 members and 19 chapters. I think business resource groups are a great way to build a sense of belonging in the workplace. They just create good energy with employees and create a good culture. 

Our mission statement [at JP Morgan Pride] is that we engage allies, management, and other business resource groups and promote an inclusive environment within the firm and local community. That consistently allows for LGBTQ+ colleagues the opportunity to build successful careers and reach their greatest potential, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a member. It creates an almost like a secondary family within the workplace. It creates the camaraderie that everybody wants. Especially in the world that we’re living in — where people either are working in hybrid schedules or are going back to work full time — it’s nice to know that you have this group, this family, at the workplace.

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