As a remote-first company, we work hard to keep our distributed team connected and provide an environment where employees can grow, learn, and celebrate their authentic selves. Our employee resource groups (ERGs) play an essential role in that effort by expanding our culture to be more inclusive.
[email protected] was one of the first ERGs to be formed, with the goal of connecting employees who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, their families, and nonveteran colleagues to foster a culture of camaraderie, offer support, and advocate for veteran recruitment, retention, and promotion.
In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down with the ERG’s leader, Zach West, Director of Customer Success Management and former Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces, to get the inside scoop on [email protected], why veterans are an asset to companies, and the importance of celebrating service members.
Tell us a bit about [email protected]
We have about 20 members, including 11 or so veterans. In addition to being a community and support forum, we’ve done a few events over the years, including interviewing a veteran business owner about his journey from the Armed Forces to running Southern Pines Brewing Company, and hosting a donation drive to benefit Razom, a nonprofit sending emergency supplies to Ukraine.
Why are veterans an asset to companies?
People who are involved in civic organizations are doing something that's greater than themselves. They tend to walk away with a better understanding of how to operate as a team and stay focused on their work. That type of selflessness benefits businesses as a whole because people are committed to the cause and will look out for one another. Veterans come from a mission-first background, so we will do whatever it takes to accomplish the end goal, leading to more efficient and productive companies.
What are some challenges facing veterans in the workplace?
Companies often overlook veterans as an underrepresented community. In reality, veterans are a diverse and vibrant group whose members intersect lines of gender, sexuality, and ability. What ties us together is a shared commitment to service, patriotism, and volunteerism. Companies should lean in and learn from their veteran community through inclusive practices, celebration, and recognition.
How is [email protected] working to change that?
I want to make sure that our group is not just a support forum, but also focused on celebration. We highlight veterans in our company by honoring their service, engaging in conversations around current events, assisting non-profits who benefit places like Ukraine, and ultimately doing the best we can to create a welcoming environment.
Looking ahead, I’d love to see our company benefit the broader community, including hiring more veterans, partnering with other ERGs at Olo, and donating to a veterans-focused organization.
How can nonveterans show their support on Veterans Day and year-round?
Simply by being involved in different veterans organizations or nonprofits. There are a lot of awareness and support runs/charity races that exist out there. If there are local events going on, just showing up to support the cause is great.
Head to our People & Culture page to learn more about our ERGs, what it’s like to work at Olo, and our current job openings.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Faust from Unsplash