Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.

What is your name and title?

Renee Barker, Food System Sustainability Manager at Postmates Civic Labs.

Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.

As part of the Civic Labs social impact team, I positively impact neighborhoods through community engagement and innovative technology solutions. I head up our work that tackles food security and sustainability across the communities we operate in.

How did you get here? Please share any quick stories from past work experiences.

I have been involved in various aspects of sustainability in my career, but really honed in on food security in my role at Postmates. I believe it is important to look at a broad view of how we can affect the food system as a delivery company and make an impact in the environmental, social, and economic sectors. Recently, I was really excited to work on our partnership to purchase and donate meals from Black-owned restaurants to those that are feeding the hungry in their communities. We have also been working to empower restaurants to donate food easily through our FoodFight program to assist their neighbors in need.

In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?

Being open to learning from others has been incredible! Engaging with other companies on their social impact programs and learnings through Pledge 1% has been extremely helpful. Also, having the support to pursue my continuing education in Product Management through General Assembly has helped inform how I tackle projects and interact with our team.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this past year?

The importance of community. Many of us faced a challenging year both personally and professionally, and it is so important to come together virtually to keep the connections we have to support and uplift each other. It can be challenging to engage with others while staying at home – but the connection is what a lot of us need to stay motivated, happy, and ready to tackle anything.

What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?

There is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of equity for women in the tech industry – from equal pay, to funding, to representation in senior leadership roles.

Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you?

There are so many people that I look up to and seek advice from as mentors! To me, mentorship is about listening and guiding, and offering expertise to help you find the answers yourself.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?

Be open to change and seize opportunities when you see them! It’s okay for there to be some uncertainty in your career path – I never thought I would have ended up where I am today when I graduated. Always value learning and growing, and remember that the world is always changing and your priorities may change as well.

What is one thing companies can do, big or small, to help create an environment that advances women into leadership positions?

Be supportive of each other and advocate for clear career pathing and opportunities for advancement at your company. Invest in the women at your company to grow into leadership roles.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year?

A lot of my professional goals are centered in making a positive impact at a large scale. I hope to continue to grow and strengthen the programs that I work on, and grow my own professional skills in more technical aspects.

Is there a cause that is particularly close to you? If so, why this cause and how did you get involved?

My passion for sustainability stems from my love of nature and the outdoors. Systems and connections in nature is well studied, but in our complicated globalized economy it can be hard to see the links and ways to increase equity and reduce waste across so many sectors. I hope to bring more clarity to building a more equitable and circular economy that brings resources to those who are in need.

When did your company join Pledge 1%? What does your impact program mean to you?

I am so proud of Postmates for joining Pledge 1% and for tackling so much with such a small team. As our company grows in new markets, our potential impact is also growing to meet the needs of communities we operate in across the country.

What do you like to do outside of the office? Any interesting (or unique) habits or interests?

I’ve reinvigorated my hobby of embroidery! My knots are messy and it doesn’t look great, but I am enjoying learning new techniques and working on a new creative outlet!

Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!

Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island by Will Harlan is an amazing story that I hope everyone can check out and be inspired by!

What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?

What helps me is to be deliberate at setting aside time to be away from technology and staring at a screen. It is easy to be connected at all times and always looking at my laptop, but I feel so much better when I can go for a walk without my phone notifications or play with my dog in the yard for a break every day.