Inside Inclusion: Vets@

11/30/2020
Kaitlin O’Donnell, Design Manager, during her time serving as a US Navy Lieutenant

Next up in our Inside Inclusion series, get to know the leads of Vets@, Pinterest’s employee community for Veterans and allies.

What is your name, and what is your role at Pinterest?
LeJon Butler, Hos-pin-tality & Logistics Program Manager, Workplace
Kaitlin O’Donnell, Design Manager, Product Design

What Community do you lead? Vets@

What first motivated you to join Vets@? How did you end up in a leadership role?
KO: Pinterest was my first job in tech and at the time I had only been out of the military for 2.5 years. I was still trying to shape my new career and find my identity in the civilian world. After being here for a bit I heard about the Vets@ community and immediately felt a sense of belonging. It was the first time I felt comfortable opening up more about my military experience. When I was approached to lead, it was a natural fit. I was already involved in the community and it helped me make connections with other people outside of my normal team.

LB: Similar to Kaitlin, Pinterest was also my first job in tech. I was a vendor contractor and Pinterest was my client for 5 years. I managed the Food Safety and Sanitizing Program for the Culinary Department, and then transitioned to manage the Pantry Snack Program as a vendor. I was later offered an opportunity to join the Pinterest Workplace Operations team. There I met Joe Ordona (current Head of Global Workplace Security and Executive Sponsor of Vets@) who informed me about the Vets@ community. Pinterest is the first place I’ve worked in my career where I’ve felt acknowledged as a veteran.

Kaitlin O’Donnell, Design Manager, during her time serving as a US Navy Lieutenant

What does Inclusion mean to you?
KO: Inclusion to me means that everyone feels welcomed and supported to bring their full self to the table.
LB: Inclusion to me means transparency. Transparency in visibility, engagement and the future.

In your opinion, what value does it add to a company?
KO: The value of inclusion is that everyone can feel comfortable together. We get to learn from each other and gain different perspectives. This helps us all grow and be more empathetic, and helps us build a product that appeals to all Pinners.
LB: An inclusive corporate environment to me means you truly can achieve results. I say this because an inclusive environment breeds clear and precise understanding and opinion.

What do you think is the key to fostering healthy conversations about inclusion?
KO: The key to fostering healthy conversations about inclusion is deep listening. By allowing others to talk and share their stories you create a safe space for them to be their full self.
LB: I feel the key to fostering healthy conversations is vulnerability. There is great strength in it.

How has this work influenced your Pinterest experience?
KO: This work has made me a better co-worker. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to collaborate closely with leads from other communities and learn so much from them. I love that being involved with a community also exposed me to new people, roles and parts of the organization that I never would have known about otherwise. Vets@ has also given me the opportunity to volunteer in my local community through community service and has been one of the most rewarding experiences to date.
LB: Our Communities have been my rock. I have leaned on them for support and they have pulled me out of some dark places that arose during the beginning of COVID-19.

LeJon Butler, Hos-pin-tality & Logistics Program Manager, Workplace

Have you ever found it challenging to balance this work with your normal day-to-day responsibilities? If so, how have you managed to successfully balance both?
KO: Definitely. There are times when it feels like a full-time job and leading a very small community can get challenging. But the work brings me so much joy. There is a lot of education that needs to be done around the veteran community and I know that our work is important to make Pinterest and the community more inclusive and understanding. I try to set aside a bit of time each week to spend focusing on Vets@ initiatives to keep it manageable on top of my normal job.
LB: Our mission statement as a company is: To bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. By internalizing that statement, I feel more connected with my peers. This has kept me inspired and engaged across my work co-leading Vets@ and my day-to-day at Pinterest.

Do you have anything else to add?
KO: Just a reminder to thank a veteran or military family member this month for all the sacrifices they have made for this country.
LB: Thank you to each and every one of our supporters, veterans, families and friends.

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