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People Behind the Product: Get to know Mia Ketterling, Pinterest’s Global Sustainability Lead

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On February 9, 2023, Pinterest released our first Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Impact Report under the theme “Inspiring a Better Future.” For this month’s People Behind the Product feature, you’ll meet Mia Ketterling, Pinterest Global Sustainability Lead, and learn more about her work in the sustainability space and insight into Pinterest’s commitment to build a healthier planet. 

Hi Mia! Thank you for joining us today and sharing more about Pinterest’s sustainability journey. What has your career path at Pinterest looked like? 

Hello! I joined Pinterest’s Product Design team as a Producer in 2015. As you can imagine, the company was very different eight years ago. Over the years, I worked across every product team from growth to monetization. I started diving deep into certain strategic projects focusing on those that were more complex and required significant cross-functional alignment. Over time, I transitioned to focus on more Design Team programmatic initiatives. In June of 2021, I took a big pivot and transitioned to become the Workplace Sustainability Manager. Now, my role has evolved to be Pinterest’s Global Sustainability Lead. 

What inspired you to drive Pinterest’s sustainability efforts? 

In my childhood, I grew up in a very environmentally-conscious household that can be summed up with the phrase, “waste-not, want-not.” When I started at Pinterest, I noticed some ways in which the office could operate in a more environmentally-friendly way. I asked around to see if we had someone dedicated to Pinterest’s sustainability efforts, and at the time, that role didn’t exist. It was important to me to work for a company that cares about the planet, and I knew I probably wasn’t alone. I felt empowered to lead something that I wanted to see happen at Pinterest.

In 2016 during Makeathon, Pinterest’s internal version of a hackathon, I gathered a group of Pinployees (Pinterest employees) to brainstorm other ways we thought Pinterest could be acting more environmentally responsible. We came up with a lengthy list of ideas, prioritized them, identified the primary points of contact and started working through each one. We set up meetings and had initial discussions about what we wanted to see and what was feasible. Many of our inquiries were met with “no” in those early conversations, but in hindsight, what I see now is that those conversations were planting seeds. For example, PinCuisine, our internal team that provides nutritious meals across Pinterest’s offices, identified that switching to reusable dishware could save money, be beneficial for the planet and save resources. It was a win-win for both the company and the environment. As I got further into my tenure at Pinterest, I became the “go-to” person when it came to sustainability. When the Workplace team implemented a new sustainability initiative, they always gave me a heads up and I helped communicate that progress across the company. I worked on programming, workshops and events to drive employee engagement outside of my day-to-day role.

Amazing, Mia! We know your journey with sustainability continued and grew outside of your role at Pinterest. Can you share what led to your role evolving further?

I had a strong hunch that most of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with operating Pinterest were likely from the data centers that powered our product, so I began conversations internally with the Pinterest team and eventually externally with our cloud computing provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Within our company, I shared the gaps and areas of improvement that I spotted and others rallied in support. Charlie Hale, our Head of Public Policy and Social Impact, stood up and said he’d work with me on this. He brought in David Chaiken, our Chief Architect, who managed the relationship with our provider and was also an outspoken climate champion. I felt that Pinterest had the opportunity as a customer to raise concerns, drive change and create impact and progress, not only for our company but for others within the industry. These conversations resulted in AWS inviting Pinterest to beta test a customer carbon footprint tool and meet with their product teams to provide direct feedback (my experience in UX research came in quite handy!). 

Up until this point, all of this was a side-hustle of mine. I had monthly meetings with stakeholders from around the company including Alison Brown, Pinterest Head of Workplace Services. She had a passion for sustainability, saw the need for a role dedicated to this work and opened up a role on the Workplace team in early 2021. It was a bit of a leap of faith, but I decided to apply for what I considered to be my dream job. After interviewing I was shocked and absolutely delighted when the recruiter let me know that I would be Pinterest’s Workplace Sustainability Manager!

Can you share more about the sustainability commitments Pinterest has made? 

Pinterest strives to make an ongoing and positive impact on our planet as well as inspire action within our operations and in our communities. A few highlights from our ESG report include:

  • In April of 2022, Pinterest rolled out a climate misinformation policy to keep false and misleading claims around climate change off the platform.
  • Pinterest has committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity for our global offices in 2023. 
  • Pinterest has also committed to set near-term emission reduction targets in line with climate science and the Science Based Target Initiative, a program designed to drive corporate climate action. 

What’s PinPlanet? What does the PinPlanet community do to support this initiative? 

Pinspiration Groups are employee interest groups that provide space for discussion, advocacy and programming centered around a common cause to make the world a safer, more inclusive place. PinPlanet is Pinterest’s planet-focused Pinspiration Group that comes together to volunteer, introduce new environment-friendly ideas, find ways to make existing processes more sustainable and is absolutely crucial to advancing this work at Pinterest. 

Some highlights of PinPlanet’s accomplishments in 2022 include: 

  • Membership – In our first year, we grew internal group presence to more than 400 Pinployees across the globe.
  • Employee Events – We hosted IRL and virtual events, including climate-friendly investing and pop up consignment shops at Knit Con and during the holiday season.
  • Thought Leadership – Kevin Houldsworth, Pinterest Senior Partner Manager, worked with Project Drawdown to become a member of Drawdown Labs and helped them draft climate job one-sheets

What has been your favorite component of this work? 

My absolute favorite part of this work is getting to meet and work with so many incredibly passionate and brilliant Pinployees from all corners of the organization and the globe. From Germany to Mexico City to Australia, there are so many folks who are inspired by and wanting to work towards a more sustainable future and defining the role Pinterest can play in getting us there. They have shared their unique perspectives, goals, fears and willingness to roll up their sleeves to get it done. I’m energized by every encounter I have with folks in PinPlanet and across the organization who are enthusiastic about this work. 

What are you most excited about going forward? 

I’m excited to see Pinterest lean into the unique role we can play in providing inspiration for a better, more sustainable future and how we can improve wellbeing for both the planet and the living creatures who call this place home (including humans!). While the impacts of climate change unjustly impact the most vulnerable and those who have done the least to cause the crisis, there are incredible co-benefits to be had by implementing solutions to the climate crisis. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can start to integrate this work more deeply into our operations and the way we partner with our advertisers, Pinployees and the broader community. This is just the beginning!

Last question because we always ask, what are you currently Pinning? 

Drought tolerant landscaping (rainscapes anyone?) + light fixtures.

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