Javed Kapadia first joined State Farm Insurance as a summer intern working in auto accident claims before being hired fulltime in 1998 and eventually running his own business within the corporation.
Kapadia, whose heritage is Pakistani and religion is Muslim, says perhaps people looked at his initial employment as part of some sort of affirmative action plan, noting that some companies were participating in this practice during the late 1990s.
“When I found out about that, at first I was like, ‘Did I just get hired because of my skin color?’ But that being said, I was like, ‘Well, it’s kind of a good thing, because there are customers of all walks of life and you want your business to represent everybody.’”
And that’s what Kapadia strives for within his own operation. “I want to make sure employees I hire represent the community, especially here in Naples because we’ve got a very diverse community.” His agency, which comprises four fulltime staff members, has offered different language-speaking services for customers, including Spanish, Creole and Portuguese.
Outside of the office, Kapadia has been involved in many diversity-related endeavors. He’s part of an interfaith panel that holds a ceremony each year to celebrate different religions—from Muslim and Christian to Judaism and Hinduism—and has sponsored Naples events such as the India Fest, Asia Fest and Greek Fest.
“We’ve been so instrumental in being part of the community and recognizing all the diversity and uniqueness that every group represents,” Kapadia says.
Part of Kapadia’s keenness in other cultures stems from his own background, the other part comes from lessons he’s gained through his travels. In all, he’s visited each continent and more than 40 countries.
“Having traveled to so many different places, I’ve learned so much more about the world and about other people, cultures, values and everything from food to religion. I’ve seen how different we are in so many ways, but yet similar. Everybody has the same belief. I think it has definitely made me a better person,” Kapadia says.
It’s helped him become a better businessperson, too. “I have clients from all walks of life, and I can immediately have some kind of rapport with them,” he says. “The greatest form of education is through travel. It really teaches you so much.”