Pride Month at VEG

Veterinary Emergency Group

Jun 1, 2021

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“VEG is the best place to work if you’re interested in career in emergency medicine. Our employees brag about their jobs and their friends are jealous.” This is part of the vision statement at Veterinary Emergency Group. We take our culture seriously, and a huge part of that culture is ensuring that all of our VEGgies (VEG employees) not only have a voice, but feel that they have a place they belong. When you enter our company you are part of our family.

In the past six months we have been working diligently to create a safe space for our employees. The past year alone has brought to light so many of the struggles that our friends and family face on a daily basis. Back in December we began the conversation of bringing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) education to our company and calling attention to topics that were previously undiscussed. Since this one conversation over zoom we have embraced and grown this idea to initiatives and projects across the country to support our VEGgies and our customers.

VEG’s Pride Month Initiatives

In light of Pride month we have an extensive list of projects and initiatives, both active and in development, to support our LGBTQIA+ VEGgies and customers. We have formed a team of 20+ VEGgies that come together to pitch ideas and get these projects off the ground. This past month we hosted a company wide contest to design a Pride themed T-shirt for our employees.

Giving Pet Owners the Option to Mention Their Pronouns at Check In

But, the first long running project we brought to life was adding the option for owners to input their pronouns at check in. The reason we decided to do this is because it creates a safe space for customers as soon as they enter our hospitals. When someone is coming in for an emergency with their pet they’re scared and stressed out. These owners have enough to worry about in these situations. They should not have to be worrying if VEG is a safe place for them to be themselves.

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” – Margaret Wheatley

Educating Our Team on the Importance of Pronouns

Closely following the release of pronoun options for our customers, we created a document on the education of pronouns, neo-pronouns (gender neutral, singular third person pronouns), the challenges/questions that surround this topic, and its relation to VEG, our VEGgies, and our customers. Along with the document there were multiple lecture series done to discuss the topic in detail and open the floor for open conversation with our VEGgies.

In these series our VEGgies were given the opportunity to ask questions and run practice scenarios for times when they might run in to misgendering or discrimination. Once our VEGgies were feeling confident in the information we saw an uprise in employees putting their pronouns in email signatures and zoom names. Following this we released pronoun pins on our company store for VEGgies to wear on their scrubs.

VEG pronoun pins for employee scrubs

VEG is Opening the Door for Conversation

After opening the floor for these conversations we have had many VEGgies come forward with amazing stories of how these first steps have already impacted their VEG experience in a huge way.

For example one evening one of our assistants told me that when I did their working interview last year they were looking at multiple companies and the reason that they decided to come to VEG is because our interview was the first time an employer asked what their pronouns were. They immediately felt respected and safe to be themselves. From the initial greeting to the following hour we spent chatting, they knew that VEG was the place they were going to choose because our culture and initiatives would support them.

Opening the door for conversation is the first step that all companies can make to begin crafting a safe space for their employees and customers. I implore everyone to take the initiative and take that step. The path to growth and acceptance starts with us.