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The Power of Pride

Shift Lead and social media guru Jesse Hawkins talks about the importance of an inclusive culture, his work with the Pride DRG, and having the freedom to live authentically.

What do you like best about the culture at Banfield?

Banfield has a very welcoming and supportive culture that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I really enjoy the fact that I can be myself and I never feel I need to hide who I am. If I want to dye my hair crazy colors or get big tattoos or paint my nails rainbow, everything is okay and even celebrated. I can openly talk about my queerness and it feels very normal. And it’s not just being accepted. Differences are celebrated here which is so refreshing. From day one, I felt like I was part of the family – I’ve never encountered this kind of support before. It’s very empowering.

What do you like most about being part of the Pride DRG?

The community - hands down. I know they have my back, and they know I have theirs! Having a safe place where you feel supported, represented, and heard is so important. Sharing experiences with other Associates has helped expand my worldview and see things from a different perspective. And I never feel like I’m alone. It’s true camaraderie. Our DRGs help drive a culture of equity and inclusivity in our hospitals, not just for our Associates but for our clients as well. It helps us better understand our clients and ultimately allows us to deliver better care. Even seemingly small gestures can have a big impact - I know multiple hospitals that decorate their boards and reception areas with rainbows for Pride month. Some even have a rainbow flag at their reception area year-round to signify this is an affirming and accepting place for all queer people. This kind of excitement from the team as a whole and from the allies in the hospitals help associates who are queer feel safe and secure to come out to their co-workers and live authentically at work as well. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

The best part of my job is working with pets. But a close second is empowering our clients to give their pets the best care possible. I get so excited when a client cares deeply for their pet and wants the best for them. I love helping people so being able to give them the resources, tools and confidence they need to take care of their pets is extremely rewarding.

What is the best advice you have received?

Be yourself! Always live authentically, and always be okay with where you’re at. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with that, and I wish I had taken that advice sooner. I came out four years ago, and I felt really conflicted about it. I've learned to give myself grace and accept myself for who I am.

Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Not really, but I have a long list of fav shows! Avatar, Gilmore Girls, Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Bobs Burgers, Schitt's Creek. I’m basically a nerd to the tenth degree! If I had to pick a favorite movie, it would have to be either Tron: Legacy (the soundtrack from Daft Punk is amazing) or The Little Mermaid. I actually had an Ariel doll when I was kid. I still have her too! Haha!

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