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A great village, here at Pinterest: Azadeh Attar reflects on the importance of a supportive workplace

two children sitting at a table

It was early March 2020. I remember talking to a few of my colleagues in the US and hearing about the school closures. I was shocked. It was unthinkable. But I still did not believe it would happen here. Closing schools? What were people expected to do?  I didn’t dare imagine what would happen if they closed the schools in Ontario where I live, and my then 3 and 5 year old kids would have to stay home all day, everyday.  Well they did close here in Canada as well, and overnight we had to figure out how we (my husband and I) were going to supervise (and eventually teach) our kids every day while we also did our day jobs. I’m a Sales Manager at Pinterest and my husband is an Operations Manager at his family business, a local metal recycling company.

Despite being in denial initially, once the schools closed, I snapped into action and my husband and I hashed out a schedule to keep the chaos at bay.  He needed to physically go into work everyday, for at least part of the day, and I was able to work from home. In fact, a few days earlier, Pinterest had told us all that we had to work from home for the time being, due to the Covid-19 situation unfolding around the world.  So my husband went into work in the morning, returning before lunch, and then would take over the childcare from me until dinnertime.

While I’d rather never live through that time again, I learned a lot of great lessons about how great companies, great colleagues and great managers support their team, and am forever grateful for having had that here at Pinterest.

Great companies

Early on, I remember receiving several emails from our head of HR at the time, letting people know that the organization supported them and offering a variety of benefits and options to help us all cope and manage during these uncertain times.

This included new benefits such as expanding our partnership with Cleo through which parents got access to a dedicated guide (a real person!), 1:1 support and online workshops. At the onset of the lockdown, Pinterest hosted a virtual panel and Q&A with several Pinterest leaders who shared how they’re coping with being caregivers and coworkers all at the same time. The company also set up a #parents Slack channel where parents could lean on each other for tips and advice.

As a parent, I felt seen, I felt supported, and it made a world of difference.

Great manager

Pinterest recognized that parents had extra caregiving responsibilities during that time, that they might need to redefine their priorities, or create an alternative or intermittent schedule e.g. blocking off time throughout the day. And for employees who needed additional flexibility and were looking to reduce workload for a short period, Pinterest also provided new flexible time off options.

I remember telling my manager about the caregiving/work schedule that my husband and I had figured out. Without missing a beat, she said that she totally understood and that I could manage things however I needed to in order to juggle childcare and work.

Great colleagues

In the mornings I took meetings on my phone, while taking the kids out during their outdoor time.  I was off camera, unmuting myself when I had a contribution, which I often did.  No one ever made me feel bad about it; in fact, so many of my colleagues and team members gave me encouraging words.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Parents are of course critical, but we need others to support us and our children along the way.  I’ll forever look back at this time and think how fortunate I was to have been supported by such a great village, here at Pinterest.


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