How This Global Head at Pinterest Co-Leads an Indigenous Community

How This Global Head at Pinterest Co-Leads an Indigenous Community

This post was originally published on Fairygodboss

Other companies may use the term ERG or Affinity Group, but at Pinterest, they’re called Communities because they’re open to employees, contractors and interns.

What does inclusion mean?

Well, for Jordan Skye Paul, Head of Global Outsourcing at Pinterest and Co-President of PIndigenous (the Indigenous Community at Pinterest), it makes her think of the saying, “all my relations.” This “means that we’re all connected, not just as people, but also to the other beings that exist among us: the two-spirit, intertribal relatives, the four-legged, those that fly and those that grow from the earth,” Skye Paul explains.

“At the core of all things, to me, we’re all connected. It’s from this foundational belief that, in my opinion, the term ‘inclusion’ stems from. It’s the idea that we all have a place here and that we can always find a way to connect. Inclusion, for me, is the practice of internalizing the concept of: ‘all my relations.’”

For Skye Paul, inclusion and diversity are personal. “It’s the notion that people from backgrounds like mine with beliefs, traditions and unique journeys are woven into the fabric of our community,” she notes. “It means that, in turn, we welcome others from all walks of life into the circle. Inclusion and diversity are survival in so many ways. They’re what will help our people thrive going forward and prepare for the next generations to come. It is so valuable, and I hope that we continue to foster it as we grow and embed it in the professional and personal parts of our lives.”

To learn about the journey Skye Paul took to form the inclusive PIndigenous community, how it helps Pinterest employees and how she champions inclusivity, read on!

Creating and growing an internal community to foster inclusivity

Skye Paul uses her core beliefs to drive change for herself and others at Pinterest. When she first joined more than five years ago, Pinterest didn’t have an Indigenous community. After meeting a few other people of Native heritage at the company, they discussed their collective desire to build a community, similar to other groups they saw at Pinterest.

These discussions were the seed that led Skye Paul to help create what is now called the PIndigenous group, a group of Indigenous people and allies, which she calls “our humble tiyospaye (extended family).”

“We’re still relatively small and growing,” says Skye Paul, “but the amount of support and appreciation I have for each of the people involved and our executive sponsor is a part of what keeps me at Pinterest.”

The goal of the PIndigenous Community is to create a space for Indigenous employees, contractors and interns at Pinterest and their allies, and support their professional career growth. Through the group’s efforts, they want to share that there is an Indigenous community at Pinterest and hope that it is a place that they want to work at.

Forming a safe place is imperative to fostering conversations about inclusion. As Skye Paul notes, “We have to focus on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual selves to walk a more balanced life to be equipped with the capacity to have healthy conversations about inclusion… Once we can appreciate how valued and important we are, then we can process that kind of space for others and begin to talk about how to provide that for one another.”

To achieve their goals, Skye Paul and the PIndigenous group work together with Pinterest and act as guiding voices for the company. They support the company’s work in recruiting and retaining top Native and Indigenous talent.

Advice for other affinity group leaders

Starting, growing and leading an employee community can be a great deal of work. As both a department head and a Community co-president, Skye Paul has a lot to balance in her day-to-day work. However, she emphasizes focusing on the importance of both aspects of your work.

“I see my role at Pinterest as both the role I hold in Community Operations and also as an advocate and member of PIndigenous. I have strengths and skills to offer in both places and to not bring that to the table every day would be a loss for me and the company,” she explains.

“I feel energized by the work I do to support our community, so while I’m tired at times making sure that I manage both aspects of my role, I also find the endurance to push through because, to me, the outcome outweighs my exhaustion at that moment. If it means that more Indigenous and Native people will want to work here, or teams at Pinterest incorporate Indigenous and Native people into the product in new ways, then, I think we’ve done our jobs well and it’s all worth it.”

Advice for tech companies

Underrepresented groups are just that, underrepresented. Sometimes the whole community is only a handful of people at your company. The proper support and resources are critical to the group’s development and sustainability.

“I’m proud of Pinterest for being the kind of company that enables our community to mobilize by supporting our growth and valuing our expertise. Leaders at Pinterest listen to our challenges and resource us appropriately (especially given how underrepresented we are). That’s the kind of environment we hope to see other companies mirror, and, in turn, see Indigenous communities develop and grow around our industry. It’s beyond time.”

To adequately address the changing needs of employees, ERGs in 2022 will need to radically reexamine goals, tactics and processes. They will need to deploy for remote, hybrid and dispersed workforces. They will need to consider and incorporate increased energy around employee advocacy. And, they will need to help drive engagement and retention when attrition is at an all-time high.

What do you think ERGs need to focus on to be successful in 2022 and beyond?